Ticket to Paradise (2022). Film review of the romcom starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts

George Clooney and Julia Roberts in Ticket to Paradise (2022)
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Comedy

2 stars film review fair passes the time

Film review by Jason Day of Ticket to Paradise, the romcom starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts as ex-spouses reuniting to ruin their daughter’s marriage. Directed by Ol Parker.

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Synopsis

Divorced couple David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) have spent years bad-mouthing each other to anyone who’ll listen. But do they protest too much?

They have a chance to find out if their original flame for each other still burns when they team up to ruin the marriage between their daughter (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) and holiday romance lover (Maxime Bouttier) who, as a mere seaweed farmer in Bali, falls below their expectations.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

***SPOILERS ALERT***

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy movie gripe!

A lesson learned is a lesson shared – beware the ‘cutsie’ romcom movie trailer.

You know the ones, all gorgeous locations and gleaming photography, gorgeous and gleaming people, coyly amusing one-liners and comic pratfalls, all wrapped up in cosy ‘ain’t they loverlee!?!’ marketing spiel.

With Ticket to Paradise, for me it’s 1000 times bitten and forever shy – for those who have seen the trailer and had a giggle, that’s your lot. The full feature is a waste of time, balls-up-of-a script endeavour that almost erases the fabulous performances of the two leads.

I’ll get the good stuff out of way first because, as film viewers, we can’t massively complain about any movie that stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts. After all, these are two performers who are never less than full wattage, bona fide, incontrovertible movie stars, all of the time.

These are parts they could play with their talent and personalities tied behind their backs so it’s no surprise both of them shine in tailor-made roles. And shine they do as Clooney is effortlessly charming as the laid-back bloke and Roberts enjoys playing a smart, wise-cracking, independent career woman.

But aside from the beautiful Balinese locales and a general air of innocent fun, it’s a star pairing that reveals the inherent weaknesses in a poor script and the overall movie.

I’ll try not to sound like too much of a frustrated, un-produced screenwriter (in real life, yes I am. Long story, I’ll tell it later to help you all get a better night’s sleep) but there’s a massive screwball comedy potential in the script that isn’t explored by the writers. It’s as if they either lost interest in the project halfway through. Or are too callow in pushing the comic entanglements of feuding parents trying to ruin their progeny’s impending nuptials?

You can’t imagine Preston Sturges or Charles MacArthur baulking in the ’30’s and ’40’s, but here the writers obviously, almost consciously scupper their project. Even the bloopers as the credits close are boring.

This couple has loathed each other to the degree it has ruined their daughter’s upbringing – so why do they only exchange mildly offensive barbs? Why not have them let rip during their initial plane trip? Instead, the only glimmer of funny comes from a single line from Geneviève Lemon, who plays the brilliantly tart passenger between them.

The comedy begins to rear its ugly head shortly after when they are introduced to their future in-laws but, after a couple of vaguely amusing comments about Roberts looking like a horse (kudos to Roberts for allowing that observation in) and Clooney possibly being knifed the laugh desert returns.

The cruellest comedy irony of this movie is that one of its saving graces – Billie Lourdes as Carver-O’Neill’s best pal Wren – is given a criminally under-written and under-utilised role.

Lourdes’ character is something that her late, and much-missed mother Carrie Fisher, as one of Hollywood’s top ‘script doctors’, would no doubt have sorted – writing that misses every comic opportunity in the book and is strewn with plot holes.

Supporting characters in screwball comedies and romcoms who are romantically attached to the lead characters serve few purposes, they are fated to get dumped (and accept) it and/or hook up with the other supporting romantic character, when the leads inevitably get it together.

So why is Lourdes not introduced to Roberts’ wet fiancee to pair them off and tidy up the story? There are plenty of opportunities, such as the wedding. Instead, frustratingly they go their separate ways when the natural ending would be to give them a shot at happiness as both are miserable.

But there are no bravos anywhere for poor Lucas as that other thankless support appendage, the hunky, adoring, black hole personality Paul, who is presented in direct contrast to Clooney (Georgey ‘has balls’ and offers his opinion to Roberts and Paul is emasculated and who has to always agree with Roberts).

Director Parker is the man who helmed the ridiculously paper-thin Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) so, given the plot similarities, is no surprise he has slipped in comfortably to the ‘not that grand’ milieu Ticket to Paradise inhabits.

There you are. Rant over. I’d say skip the main feature and watch the trailer instead, which is where all the big laughs are.

Cast & credits

Director: Baz Luhrmann. 1hr 44 min/104 min. Universal Pictures/Working Title Films/Smokehouse Pictures/Red Om Films. (12a).

Producers: Deborah Balderstone, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Sarah Harvey.
Writers: Daniel Pipski, Ol Parker.
Camera: Ole Bratt Birkeland.
Music: Lorne Balfe.
Sets: Owen Paterson.

George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Arielle Carver-O’Neill, Maxime Bouttier, Billie Lourd, Lucas Bravo.

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