Movie Review TagSome movies merely exist to remind us of better ones from the past. On that superficial level, Ticket to Paradise starring continuously dapper actor/producer/director George Clooney and Oscar winner Julia Roberts, chugs along sufficiently. It’s an unabashed throwback to the romantic comedies of the 90’s and early 2000’s, a genre that has sadly become extinct. Director Ol Parker clearly delineated the outline of this simple story; he just forgot to color in between the lines. The best decision the filmmakers made was casting Clooney and Roberts, megastars who ruled the romcom roost back in the day. Known for imbuing their characters with fierce intelligence and sublime sexuality, Clooney and Roberts still have that sparkly glint in their grins. If only this movie featured more grinning and less grumbling.

The movie’s plot is borderline absurd but like the romcoms from yesteryear, Parker and co-writer Daniel Pipski aren’t interested in realistic characters as much as basking in the glow of old-school romance, screwball comedy, and the folly of human frailty. You’ve seen it before, but you haven’t seen it lately. It’s become apparent that human-interest stories, whether comedic or dramatic, have been crushed like cigarette butts under the heel of the studio system. It’d be great if this one reignites their interest, but it’s highly doubtful.

David and Georgia Cotton (Clooney and Roberts) are two powerful industrialists whose brief marriage dissolved 20 years prior. Clooney is a Chicago architect while Roberts is a museum curator in Los Angeles. The only thing that keeps them in contact (and happy by all accounts) is their sprightly daughter, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). The movie opens on Lily’s law school graduation ceremony where David and Georgia sit in the stands and bicker like children as they compete for their daughter’s attention. Seriously, is this how we’re introduced to these screen icons? They continue insulting each other at the airport where they take Lily and her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) for her post-graduation trip to Bali (yes, the Cottons are incredibly wealthy). Even with their overflowing love for their only child, they can’t be in the same vicinity for five minutes. With parents like these it’s a miracle they’re not dropping her off at prison instead of the airport.

In Bali, Lily meets a dreamy seaweed farmer, Gede (Maxime Bouttier). Six weeks later the two plan to marry on the island’s beautiful beaches (it was actually shot in Australia). Although Lily just finished law school and has a cushy job waiting for her, she’s as unconcerned about her career as a Deadhead in a parking lot. Uh-huh. Of course the movie never explains why Lily would change the course of her life in a heartbeat, yes, even after falling in love. The audience should just jump onboard. It’s a comedy, right? Who cares? That seems to be the film’s entire conceit.

When she tells her parents about her plans, David and Georgia fly to Bali and concoct a scheme to sabotage her wedding. Will they pull off this hackneyed enterprise? Will they rekindle their dormant love for each other in the doing? Stay tuned. Crazy hijinks ensue! After the first grueling twenty minutes of this movie, you just hope it had a rocky start and will even out somehow. No such luck. In fact, things just get worse when David and Georgia arrive. Although the fish-out-of-water scenario is played for laughs, most of it feels ugly. Take the scene when David and Georgia are invited to Gede’s parents’ house for a traditional Balian dinner to celebrate their children’s upcoming nuptials. Instead of giving them five minutes of their attention, David and Georgia languidly pout and continue sniping at each other. The scene is awkward and uncomfortable; it’s definitely not funny. Then there’s the moment when David and Georgia steal the wedding rings and pin it on the five-year-old ring bearer who traumatically weeps because she thinks she ruined the entire event. Do the Cottons care? Nah. In fact, they don’t give a damn about their daughter’s fiancé, his family, or Bali; they just want to smuggle Lily back to the States. You know why? Because they love her. Ahhh.

This movie is entirely misguided. Conceptually, it’s rife with possibilities, but the screenplay is either too frightened or too shy to explore some of the issues it addresses. There could’ve been some interesting scenes between Clooney and Bouttier, who plays Lily’s fiancé. Maybe we could find out why Clooney’s character is so insulated from the world and depressed. Perhaps his future son-in-law and his lovely family could change him somehow. Although the movie begins to move in that direction, it falls off the rails with gags involving dolphins, snakes, and beer pong. It’s as if the filmmakers watched all their favorite romantic comedies but only took notes on the scenes when people fell on their faces. Additionally, the script never clearly explains what went wrong in David and Georgia’s marriage, which is the crux of the story. Their backstory is vague at best, bland at worst. But, seriously, why should we care? They’re awful.

This middling fare is not completely without its charms. The lush scenery is beautifully photographed, the pacing is quick and adept, and it’d be fun to watch Clooney and Roberts play off each other if the writing was a better. It certainly makes you want to take a tropical vacation.

Ultimately, Ticket to Paradise has bigger issues than its lamebrained tone. Comedy or not, it leaves a bad taste. The islanders are mere window dressing to the ridiculous love story of these entitled jerks who you wish would get gobbled up by sharks. Yes, dumb comedies sometimes require you to turn off your brain for a couple hours, but do you have to also turn off your soul?
































































































































































































































Editor’s note: The disclaimer below refers to advertising posts and does not apply to this or any other editorial stories. LA Weekly editorial does not and will not sell content.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.