The end credit outtakes of Ticket to Paradise give us a glimpse of the fun George Clooney and Julia Roberts had making it. I have no doubt given the gorgeous setting of Bali (though it was made in Australia). They’ve also played exes before in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve and seemed to have a ball doing it. Ol Parker’s rom com intermittently succeeds at riding the wave of their star power. It’s got the right stars with the right chemistry and too often the wrong script.
David Cotton (Clooney) and Georgia Cotton (Julia Roberts) have, as far they’re concerned, been blissfully divorced for two decades. They rarely interact but will for the one subject they agree on. That’s their love for daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), who’s just finished college. The graduate is ready for some downtime with wild BFF Wren (Billie Lourd) in Bali-stralia. She soon meets Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a seaweed farmer who pulls her heartstrings. Within a month they’re engaged. Given David and Georgia’s history, breaking up the impending nuptials is on their mind and they jet to paradise to execute the plan.
Sitcom level attempts to do so transpire as our leads try to put some bad juju on romantic Balinese traditions. Dropping in to surprise Georgia is younger beau Paul (Lucas Bravo), a pilot who can’t seem to navigate his girlfriend’s signals. His character is an example of the screenplay’s mediocrity. I never bought the relationship they have as anything more than a plot device to reunite our megawatt headliners. I’m not expecting realism in a rom com, but everyone is underwritten or a caricature here (the talented Lourd’s treatment as the boozy travel companion is another case).
Your enjoyment may hinge on how content you are watching Clooney and Roberts do their thing. A drunken night out features 90s jams like “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” and “Jump Around”. That’s the decade when audiences fell for them. In Paradise, they can only coast so far given the material. This is not an example of them saving their best stuff for later.
** (out of four)