George Clooney and Julia Roberts thrive as bickering divorcees, but they're let down by a script that can't match their chemistry
The unmistakable whiff of formula exudes from this well-meaning but aggressively mediocre attempt to revive the romantic comedy, a genre that seems to be continually threatening to make a comeback but never quite manages, delivered with a postcard-perfect sheen and questionable cultural representation by its co-writer and director Ol Parker (best known for his superior sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).
George Clooney and Julia Robert are the bickering, divorced parents out to sabotage the wedding of their lawyer daughter (Booksmart's Kaitlyn Dever), who has a love at first sight encounter with an Indonesian seaweed farmer (Maxime Bouttier) during a trip to Bali with her quirky, underwritten best friend type (Billie Lourd). They decide to put their differences aside in order to bring her home and, over the course of 106 minutes, will realise they’re still in love (but you already knew that). It's a movie where the line “you’ve got to be kidding me” is deployed not once, but twice.
The film plays things sincerely, free of the winking and self parody that has marked some recent attempts to raise the genre from the ground. These seasoned, certified movie stars share the same easy-going chemistry – with Clooney in full goof mode – previously showcased in the Ocean's films, and there are a handful of sequences where the film threatens to be as charming as it is earnest. But it also wants the witty, to and fro patter of His Girl Friday; the script doesn’t get anywhere close (jokes and lines are shamelessly shipped in from Before Sunset and Lost in Translation).
As harmless as it is unambitious, Ticket to Paradise technically works as a salute to a less cynical type of easygoing romp (the movie comes to us from Working Title, purveyor of countless iconic rom-coms), where real movie stars could convince us of a good time by their presence alone. We’ve taken this trip a zillion times before, though – and for all its lighthearted appeal, it quickly becomes a vacation we’re keen to cut short, especially since we’ve guessed each and every beat well in advance.
Ticket to Paradise is released in UK cinemas on 20 September.Where to watch