Who doesn’t want to see George Clooney and Julia Roberts together? As a divorced couple forced to reunite for their daughter’s wedding? In a setting that is a sight for pandemic-weary eyes?
Screwball comedy with a dash of armchair travel beckons. Clooney and Roberts are in perfect sync as cynical exes who attempt to sabotage their only daughter’s wedding in Bali because of their own history. There are some zinging exchanges between the camera-friendly leads, delivered with well-honed timing and palpable glee.
The cast includes globally recognisable millennial talent (Kaitlyn Dever from Booksmart; Lucas Bravo from Emily in Paris). Queensland passes off just fine for Bali. All the elements are in place, but Ol Parker’s Ticket to Paradise is simply too lazy to make the most of its premise.
The plot rehashes ideas previously explored in That Old Feeling and Father of the Bride. Art gallery owner Georgia (Roberts) and architect David (Clooney) were married for all of five years, though you wouldn’t know from their bickering, which suggests a far longer entanglement. The product of their union, Lily (Dever), chucks a promising career after meeting a dreamboat.
Gede (Maxime Bouttier) is a hunky seaweed farmer from Bali who is “in harmony” with nature and his surroundings. Georgia and David fly to Bali with every intention of wrecking the nuptials. It means having to tolerate each other and set aside their expectations from Lily. It also means dealing with Paul (Bravo), an airline pilot smitten with Georgia.
What could go wrong? The script, for one thing, dashed off by Ol Parker and Daniel Pipski with the same haste with which Lily jettisons her professional future and settles for domesticity.
Ol Parker has previously written wealthy white travellers into tourist brochure-friendly settings for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Ticket to Paradise too is groaning with stereotyped Indonesian characters beaming their welcome and behaving like employees at an expensive resort, rather than members of Gede’s family.
As the principal providers of the bitters, the Clooney-Roberts combo is up for much more than the film can muster. Apart from a few blistering exchanges and contrived misadventures, Ticket to Paradise has little to offer these fabulously paired actors.
A sequence in which Georgia and David hilariously let it rip is badly edited. The film’s episodic quality squanders the chemistry between the lead pair, which is far more believable than the plasticky soulfulness between Lily and Gede.
George Clooney and Julia Roberts are having enough fun pretending to be mad at each other to ensure that Ticket to Paradise isn’t a washout. The movie might be in vacation mode, but these bona fide movie stars are most definitely not.