George Clooney and Julia Roberts play long divorced couple David and Georgia, who join forces again to prevent their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) making the same hasty marriage mistake that they did. Lily’s new love is a handsome young seaweed farmer she has met while on holiday in Bali. Not the future this still feuding couple had in mind for their only child. So united in this one thing, off they go to Bali, squabbling from the moment they get on the airplane.
But inevitably, we know, because it’s a romantic comedy, that deep down they still love each other and that love will resurface before the end of the film – or we’ll want our money back.
It was a clever casting strategy on the part of director Ol Parker. Clooney, who was every woman’s dreamboat when he was young and beautiful, is still a very attractive man. It’s not so much his looks, though they have worn well and go with his now white but still abundant hair, but it’s that famous, self deprecating charm which presses the buttons. Roberts is still a good looking lady, if a touch matronly now, but when she flashes that famous smile, she’s “pretty woman” again. And as a couple their on screen chemistry works well.
Dever as Lily and Maxime Bouttier as her fiancé Gede make a charming and endearing couple and we get some interesting background on Bali and its family and marriage customs from Agung Pindha, who is not a professional actor. He was originally hired as cultural consultant on the film and ended up playing Gede’s father, rather well as it happens. Among the rest of the cast Lucas Bravo does well in the tricky role of Georgia’s much younger airline pilot boyfriend. We know he’s on a hiding to nothing but Bravo convinces us that he believes he’s in there with a chance.
The film was shot largely in Queensland during the Covid crisis but managed to get to Bali itself when things started to open up. The combination gives the film a luscious background against which to play out its story.
The film is admittedly lightweight and predictable but it’s good fun, with the two mature stars striking satisfying sparks off each other and reassuring their contemporaries in the audience that there’s still love in life, even when your fiftieth birthday is but a distant a memory.
NOTE: As a mark of respect to the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II, “Ticket to Paradise” will now not be released until Tuesday 20th September