Romantic comedies have never gone away, but mainstream A-list star examples have been pretty thin on the ground since the glory days of the ’90s and early 2000s, when “Pretty Woman,” “Notting Hill,” “Love Actually ‘ and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” reigned at the box office. Going against the trend is “Ticket to Paradise,” a shiny piece of fluff starring Hollywood royalty Julia Roberts and George Clooney as a divorced couple whose passion flares up again in Bali during their stubborn attempt to prevent their daughter from marrying a man she has only just met . While this is far from a classic of its kind, this is probably just the “Ticket” for general viewers who enjoy the chance to see Roberts and Clooney trade poisonous barbs, before being struck again by Cupid’s arrow.
Opened in much of Europe, South America and Australia long before its release in North America on October 21, “Ticket” is the kind of lightweight entertainment that would often bypass movie theaters these days and go straight to streaming platforms. With its powerhouse central duo exuding charm, even if the directing lacks panache and the dialogue isn’t all that funny, this ultra-formula-esque concoction should still draw large crowds to its theatrical run. It looks and sounds like it could have been made 20 or 30 years ago, “Ticket” may not contain as much bubbly and sophisticated humor – or even a lot of big belly laughs – but delivers enough smiles and chuckles to register as an easily enjoyable but Memorable distraction for audiences looking for simple escapist entertainment.
Director Ol Parker (“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” writer of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) and co-writer Daniel take a basic cue from the comedy series “Philadelphia Story” about divorced couples trying again. Pipski positions David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) as a husband and wife who had everything for five short years. That was before the lake house David had built for them burned to the ground and their happiness went up in smoke.
Twenty years later, they have become accustomed to a comfortable routine of exchanging insults when called to attend milestone events in the life of daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). They look forward to even less contact after the grimace of Lily’s graduation, but the exes are reunited six weeks later when Lily announces that she is getting married to Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a handsome local seaweed farmer she met while on vacation at Bali with her BFF Wren (Billie Lourd).
Complicating matters is the unexpected arrival of Georgia’s younger friend, Paul (a thankless role for “Emily in Paris” star Lucas Bravo), a pilot. The handsome flyboy, a clumsy type who practically adores Georgia, proposes marriage just as the plot calls for another distraction to keep David and Georgia apart until the rom-com convention determines they’re ready to start dating each other. and look dazed eyes.
There’s a lot of zingy repartee in early series where the cranky divorcees declare a truce to stop Lily from making a big mistake that they know will be a big mistake. Of course, that’s before they even meet the court, but that’s beside the point and nothing less than sabotaging the marriage will suffice in such an emergency.
Central to the appeal of romcoms is the fact that anyone can guess the ending. Their success depends on the timing and execution of funny jokes and situations on the way to familiar and comforting affirmations of love and romance. After a promising start, “Ticket to Paradise” never exactly dives – that would be nearly impossible with Clooney and Roberts in the frame – but often struggles to make the most of a setup that seems ripe for the comedic misunderstandings, wacky shenanigans, and crossed threads that support this genre.
Whether David and Georgia are executing their rather silly plans to steal the wedding rings and sow doubt in Gede’s mind, or design travel and transportation accidents that will throw the arrangements into chaos, the film moves well enough, but rarely reaches comedic highs or gathers the momentum to drag the audience into the chaos. Georgia’s unfortunate encounter with a dolphin, or a hotel room switcheroo after Paul’s sudden arrival, are further examples of moments that could have been turned into laughter riots but ended up as mildly amusing instead.
When Parker gets his groove on, the picture rocks, like the sequence in which Clooney and Roberts bust so-bad-them-good dance moves on C+C Music Factory’s ’90s floor-filler “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” in a bar after one too many beer pong games.That’s about as raunchy and wild as it gets in a very PG-13 photo that never even suggests anyone has sex before — or even after — marriage.
This is totally the Roberts-Clooney show, with both also giving the story’s occasional soul-seeking moments an emotional weight that will resonate especially with middle-aged viewers. Still, other cast members do well with generally limited options. Dever is attractive in the narrowly written and rather old-fashioned role of a young woman who adores Gede, but is also afraid to “let everyone down” if she follows her heart, and has a pleasant chemistry with the talented Indonesian- French actor Bouttier in his first major international feature film. Lourd, who starred alongside Dever in ‘Booksmart’, manages some good jokes in the role of best friend, while Australian actor Genevieve Lemon scores in a few appearances as a chatty airline passenger who shows up on the tourist trail when David would least like it. find her.
It’s also good to see Balinese culture and day-long wedding rituals accurately and respectfully portrayed as the final moment of romantic truth approaches for the young couple and parents of the bride-to-be. Filmed primarily in the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Northern Australia due to Covid-19 restrictions that make on-location shooting in Bali impossible, “Ticket” really takes on the look of paradise in DP Ole Bratt Birkeland’s beautifully polished widescreen images ( “Judy”). The Aussie duo of production designer Owen Paterson (“The Matrix”) and customer Lizzy Gardiner (“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”) also make fine contributions to creating a place that seems a million miles away from all worries. of the world. For a slightly too long 104 minutes, that is a place that many viewers like to come to.