There is something to be said for star power.
“Ticket to Paradise” is a pretty conventional romantic comedy but is elevated above the normal by the undeniable charisma and talent of George Clooney and Julia Roberts. They play David and Georgia Cotton, the divorced parents of Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) who has fallen in love with Gede, an Indonesian man (Maxime Bouttier), while on vacation in Bali.
The ongoing joke of the film is that David and Georgia absolutely hate each other but are united in one thing — opposition to the proposed marriage of Lily and Gede and their determination to stop it.
The film is pretty successful whenever the focus of the action is on the two stars, which is most of the time. Clooney and Roberts are at the top of their game in taking these two stereotypes and infusing them with just enough charm to make their ongoing war or words and deviousness funny instead of off-putting. The two actors who play the couple are engaging enough to make you root for them.
Gede’s family and the Indonesian traditions depicted could easily have been cut and pasted from any number of similar films (“Crazy Rich Asians,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” etc.); you never get any true sense of them as people. They are merely there to add local flavor.
The only real stumbles are in the addition of minor characters who add nothing to the film overall, namely Lily’s friend Wren (Billie Lourd) and Georgia’s paramour Paul (Lucas Bravo). It seems de rigueur in romantic comedies that there be wacky sidekicks to add color and comedy to the proceedings, and sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t — here it doesn’t. But thankfully, they are merely distractions instead of nuisances.
The real attractions are Clooney and Roberts. Both work far too infrequently, so it is a real pleasure to see them on the big screen once again, and their chemistry is evident from the very beginning. Clooney can say more with the raise of an eyebrow and twinkle in an eye than most actors can say in a soliloquy.
He is rakish, debonair and suave yet approachable — the closest we have in modern cinema to Cary Grant. Roberts is simply delightful in every way. She has always possessed great comic timing and a unique combination of earthiness and elegance, and she uses these to great effect in this character. Age has not dimmed her inherent radiance one bit.
The script by Ol Parker and Daniel Pipski, and the direction by Parker, do not break any new ground. The movie is pretty predictable from beginning to end, but even though the destination is never in doubt, the journey is rewarding.
I had a thoroughly good time watching “Ticket to Paradise,” so if you are looking for a movie to provide a few good laughs and a general sense of contentment it might just be your ticket.
“Ticket to Paradise” is currently playing at Tinseltown in Kenosha.