Movie review: Roberts, Clooney’s rom-com ‘Ticket to Paradise’ fails to boot

When it comes to rom-com weddings, beware Julia Roberts—she’s already eloped as a bride and sowed chaos at her friends’ weddings, and now, in “Ticket to Paradise,” her character directs her confusing scenes of her daughter’s marriage and union.

Written and directed by Ol Parker, “Ticket to Paradise” brings Roberts together with a rom-com, and with her “Ocean’s Eleven” co-star as well, George Clooney, but what should be a quick hit is instead a wasted free throw.

The elements are there: the gigantic powerhouse of Roberts and Clooney, who teased and grumbled effortlessly throughout the film as Georgia and David, and the sharply divorced parents of aspiring graduate Lily (Caitlyn Dever). Before beginning her career as a lawyer in Chicago (oddly enough, after only four years of college), Lily sets out to eat, pray, and love her way around Bali with her friend Wren (Billy Lord). But a rescue boat by handsome seaweed grower, Gede (Maxime Bouttier), sends Lily’s well-placed plans into the brew. The next time her parents see her, it’s on Bali and, unbeknownst to her, they finally unite – when it comes to sabotaging her wedding.

This is all explained in the trailer, and the intro is a good enough rom-com – two people hate each other, and then, hopefully, love each other, only this time they get used to loving each other, and they both love their daughter, so much so that they prefer Seeing her alone, pursuing her career in America, rather than young and in love in Bali. There are a lot of projections going on, and yes, the script of the movie will show us all of that as well.

However, there’s something a bit lethargic about “Ticket to Paradise,” which shrugs off extreme jungle and heightened attitudes, but doesn’t go all the way, like Sandra Bullock’s “Lost City” car. Instead, “Ticket to Heaven” is sad, melancholy, almost depressing in its tone, as Georgia and David think their marriage ended early (or was it?).

No one delivers a blank monologue in a hotel bar full of regrets like Clooney, and no one delivers hard but soft wisdom like Roberts, but “Ticket to Paradise” also asks them to engage in absurd nonsense like a seaweed harvesting contest and drunken beer table dancing to hip songs hop in the ’90s. The muddled tone never works, and neither do these characters. The motive behind the breakup of their daughter’s wedding is unclear, and their admiration depends entirely on the fact that two beloved movie stars are playing their part. Unfortunately, Georgia and David are still not very likeable.

The only person who seems to understand the movie he’s showing is Lucas Bravo (from “Emily in Paris” and “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”), who is strangely absent from the trailers, playing Georgia’s younger friend. He realized that this movie should be silly and cute, and make a brave effort, but this is not enough to stop the tide of bad feelings emanating from the central pair.

Clooney and Roberts are masters of banter and chemistry, but it seems clear that Clooney succeeds at this maximum in movies with a serious streak, and Roberts needs a character with more quirkiness or neurosis to shine. In addition, “Ticket to Paradise” spends a lot of time telling us their issues, rather than showing them. The whole endeavor is an unfortunate nap.

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