Movie review: ‘Ticket to Paradise’ doesn’t take off | Way of life


When it comes to romantic movie weddings, beware of Julia Roberts — she once ran away as a bride and wreaked havoc at her best friend’s nuptials.

Now, in “Ticket to Paradise,” her character has set her sights on marrying her own daughter. Written and directed by Ol Parker, “Ticket to Paradise” reunites Roberts with the romantic comedy — and with his “Ocean’s Eleven” co-star George Clooney, too — but what should be a slam dunk is more of a missed kick.

The elements are there: the megastar power of Roberts and Clooney, who banter and flicker effortlessly throughout the film as Georgia and David, the acrimoniously divorced parents of ambitious recent graduate Lily (Kaitlin Dever). Before starting her legal career in Chicago (oddly, after what seems like only four years of college), Lily goes to eat, pray, love around Bali with her best friend, Wren (Billie Lourd). But a boat rescue by a handsome seaweed farmer, Gede (Maxime Bouttier), sends Lily’s well-laid plans into the drink. The next time her parents see her is in Bali, and unbeknownst to her, they are finally united – when it comes to sabotaging her marriage.

It’s all explained in the trailer, and the premise is a pretty fine rom-com device – two people hate each other, then hopefully love each other, but this time they loved each other and they all love each other. two their daughter, so much so that they prefer to see her alone, pursuing her career in America, rather than young and in love in Bali. There are a lot of projections going on, and yes, the script will explain all of that for us too.

Still, there’s something fairly inert about “Ticket to Paradise,” which flirts with high jinks and heightened situations, but doesn’t go all the way to, say, Sandra Bullock’s vehicle “The Lost City.” “did it. Instead, “Ticket to Paradise” is sad, wistful, almost downcast in its tone, as Georgia and David reflect on their own marriage, gone too soon – or was it?

No one delivers an empty hotel bar monologue filled with regret like Clooney, and no one offers steely but gentle wisdom like Roberts, but “Ticket to Paradise” also asks them to engage in silly nonsense like a seaweed harvesting contest and drunken beer pong dancing to 1990s hip-hop hits.

The scrambled tone never quite works, and neither do these characters. Their motivation for breaking up their daughter’s marriage is unclear, and their liking rests entirely on having two very likable movie stars playing them. Unfortunately, Georgia and David are still very unfriendly.

The only person who seems to understand the movie he’s in is Lucas Bravo (from “Emily in Paris” and “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”), playing Georgia’s young boyfriend. He understands that this movie should be silly and sweet, and makes a valiant effort, but it’s not enough to stem the tide of bad vibes emanating from the central pair.

Clooney and Roberts are masters of crackling banter and chemistry, but it seems clear that Clooney does best in movies with a dangerous streak, and Roberts needs a character with more quirks or neuroses to shine. Also, “Ticket to Paradise” spends too much time telling us what their problems are, rather than showing us. This whole business is an unfortunate siesta.

2 out of 4 stars


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