Tuesday, 31 January 2023

‘Ticket To Paradise’ thrives on chemistry and scenic beauty



‘TICKET TO PARADISE’ RATED PG-13

A date night movie sounds like a great idea for a couple to enjoy an evening’s entertainment, and the romantic comedy of “Ticket to Paradise” starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts as exes on a mission to thwart their daughter’s matrimony is an interesting premise.

In recent years, romantic comedies from a major studio have become increasingly scarce. Dating as far back as the 1930s with the then-called “screwball comedy,” the genre continued to evolve and flourish through the start of the century.

It’s not like romantic comedies have disappeared altogether, considering how Netflix showcases more films than one can humanly consume or that the genre has veered away from the conventional approach.

Film director Ol Parker had a feeling that our global collective experience over the last couple of years during the pandemic had left audiences yearning for the rebirth of romantic comedy.

In the press notes for “Ticket to Paradise,” Parker realized that “romantic comedies bring a large audience together to collectively laugh with each other, and after a few tough years, that seemed like a beautiful thing to bring to the big screen.”

Clooney and Roberts have been a screen couple before as Danny and Tess Ocean in “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Ocean’s Twelve,” and though those films are not romantic, the stars did trade barbs and insults which look like practice for their reunion here.

With their cinematic history, Clooney and Roberts were obvious choices as the long-divorced couple of David and Georgia who despise each other because this premise is only going to work when the actors have the chemistry required to eventually break down the barrier of bitterness.

David and Georgia were married for only five years, but he says it felt more like nineteen, and the split was hardly amicable. They only come together in a most uncomfortable way to attend their daughter Lily’s graduation.

Fresh out of law school with a job waiting for her at a prestigious law firm, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) takes off on a vacation to scenic Bali with her friend and college roommate Wren (Billie Lourd) as a last thrill before the daily grind of work.

Lily’s professional plans get derailed when she falls for handsome seaweed farmer Gede (Maxime Bouttier), and after a rather brief courtship becomes engaged with apparent little thought to her future.

News of the impending nuptials doesn’t sit well with David and Georgia, who then embark on a shared clandestine mission to show up as supportive parents with a hidden agenda of undermining the wedding while struggling to conceal their mutual distaste.

A romantic comedy always has plot contrivances that are usually easy to spot. What’s not so readily discerned is figuring out the history of a couple that would rather endure root canal or some other unpleasantry than be in the same room together.

We have to accept it on faith that Georgia, an art gallery owner, and David, an architect, are so filled with acrimony and blame that they will bicker like school kids during the graduation ceremony.

The backbiting continues for Georgia and David when they inadvertently become seatmates on the long flight and end up trading barbs that provide some of the humor one was hoping for from two charismatic characters.

An interesting twist to the international flight is the coincidence of Georgia’s younger boyfriend Paul (Lucas Bravo), a commercial airline pilot, just happening to be on duty. You can expect he will show up again at an unexpected moment.

An alcohol-fueled evening of overly exuberant dancing and beer pong competition by the parents leads to the inevitable waking up the next day to a situation that should surprise no one.

Filming the beautiful tropical lifestyle of Bali also captures and respects the Balinese people and culture, with Gede’s father (Agung Pindha) displaying a sense of humor that rivals that of the most practiced professional actor.

The script for “Ticket to Paradise” may be wafer-thin only because so much is predictable, and despite any drawbacks of serviceable tropes, the film benefits from the sunny, vibrant Indonesian location filled with glistening beaches and gorgeous sunsets.

More than the exquisite scenery of Bali is desired to turn this romantic vehicle into a winning film, unless you think Clooney and Roberts are all the backdrop necessary.

Punching a “Ticket to Paradise” is an overall enjoyable experience, if not completely memorable. This is a one-off romantic comedy that’s good enough in the moment but not likely worthy of a return engagement.

For now, “Ticket to Paradise” is a theatrical release but since this film is a Universal picture it’s set for release on Peacock in early December.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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