There’s no denying the chemistry between George Clooney and Julia Roberts puts a cool breeze through “Ticket to Paradise.” Unfortunately, they can’t save the sails from deflating when this predictable ‘rom com’ dives into its slow and sappy denouement.
For much of “Paradise,” you get what you came for. Clooney and Roberts play David and Georgia- a divorced couple who bash each other with quickly-bantered verbal barbs whenever they’re together. As both are attending daughter Lily’s (Kaitlyn Dever) graduation from school, the barbs are flying.
Before beginning her expected law career, Lily takes her ‘rom com-patented’ promiscuous bestie Wren (Billie Lourd) with her to Bali. When the two swim out too far, they’re rescued by Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a local seaweed farmer. Normally, Gede would be a mud-caked guy slinging seaweed from a shack but, since it’s a ‘rom com’, he looks like he stepped out of a clothing catalog. Gede lives on a secluded beach in an island-opulent, open-walled wonder of a cabin. After Gede and Lily’s ‘meet-cute’, Lily e-mails her parents with marriage on her mind.
Not wanting their daughter to make the same mistake they did by marrying young, David and Georgia join forces to stop the pending nuptials. With the ‘bickering Bickersons’ going to Bali to become partners-in-crime, will David and Georgia reconnect and become partners in time?
“Paradise” is everything you know and expect from romantic comedies but Clooney and Roberts are the attraction. While their sarcastic asides excel, seeing them drunkenly dance to C+C Music Factory and play beer pong’s a bonus. Most of the better surprises, however, favor Clooney over Roberts. Whether giving a heartfelt recollection of his marriage to Wren or taking Gede aside to tell him Lily will leave him, Clooney at least has a background for David’s bitterness. Roberts doesn’t get her fair share. Saddled with a French-accented boyfriend named Paul (Lucas Bravo) who follows Georgia to Bali to profess his love, Roberts sinks in her sitcom-inspired subplot. As Paul’s never a threat or challenge to David, he’s not a worthy foil, making his inclusion a waste of time and Georgia a one-dimensional character for Roberts to play.
Because “Paradise” feels it has to wrap up every relationship in heartfelt talks, the energy Clooney and Roberts give the movie dissipates into insufferably long scenes of reconciliation. Were “Paradise’s” characters more interesting than the cookie-cutter ones we’re given, this might have worked. Without any surprises or subtle farce to keep “Paradise” afloat, the movie lingers too long. Paradise it’s not, but if ‘rom coms’ are your thing or the pairing of Clooney and Roberts is too irresistible to refuse, it just may be your ticket.