An impromptu round beer pong with George Clooney, Nighttime on the paradise island of Bali, this is a hot program item for the superstar’s comeback film, a film perfectly tailored for him – now with white hair and beard but slim and lithe – and for the woman at his side, Julia Roberts, just as agile and ageless as he is.
Beer Pong is a game where you can fool yourself pretty quickly – you have to throw ping pong balls into cups and also empty those cups, and there may well be stronger stuff in them than beer… Clooney then wiggles along ecstatically the whole body, he celebrates his disinhibition with relish and naively, like his not dissimilar predecessor Cary Grant in his early comedies. The daughter is present at the beer pong, and she is real not amused.
Julia Roberts once again plays Clooney’s ex, as in the first two films in Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Ocean’ series, and she works in the art business again (she has a very keen eye for art, the picture is hung upside down , she remarks coolly in front of an abstract painting). The pair also starred together in Clooney’s first directorial effort, 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and later in 2016’s Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster.
The marriage ended after five years – now a competition for the better insults begins
This time, they’ve come to Bali as an ex-couple to screw up their daughter Lily’s (Kaitlyn Dever) wedding – helicopters at its worst. You know, from personal experience, this marriage cannot go well. After graduating, Lily went on vacation to Bali, met a boy there, an algae farmer, and now they want to get married. The parents’ marriage ended after five years and they have lived separately ever since, in Los Angeles and Chicago. If they do get together, the only thing that matters is who hurls out the most pointed remarks at the other and how quickly. A competition of sophistication. Of course there’s a poor newbie who stays hot on Roberts’ heels, of course she accidentally ends up back in bed with Clooney.
“Ticket to Paradise” begins as an American marital war comedy in the style of the 1930s, aggressive and sophisticated, with rousing exchanges of blows, only the common Bali mission unites them. But the island ambience is gradually softening the strict screwball rules, Bali is the opposite of the grey, monotonous business America that Clooney and Roberts come from and to which they want to bring their daughter back into a dreary legal career. In Bali everything that is alive has color and shape and emotion.
Director Ol Parker is a specialist in films about the clash of nature and culture, having written the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films and directed the 2018 second film Mamma Mia. “Ticket to Paradise” was filmed in Queensland and earlier this year due to a Covid lockdown in Australia, filming had to be interrupted.
Of course, Clooney, with his immense charm, has a hard time being really mean and nasty (only Cary Grant could do that when he’s ruthlessly trying to recapture his ex in “His Girl Friday”), and there’s a dark, melancholic undertone to the Story, as any true comedy should be. At times, Clooney feels like a loser like Danny Ocean.
The parents’ love died in the fire when their lake house burned down – but Clooney has not then sold the property and has visited it from time to time. One comedy of remarriage, is how Stanley Cavell, the Harvard professor, called the genre in his book “Pursuits of Happiness”, in which he developed his social philosophy about cinema and its comedies. in the American way of life love doesn’t go straight, it makes bends and a radical reversal, and recycling is very natural…
When Lily meets the boy and they spend the first night together, she wakes up in the morning in an airy, beautiful room with colorful pillows and carpets and wooden ornaments. She looks around and walks to the open door, and in one motion the camera goes out of the room, out onto the porch of the beach house, retreats back over the sea, and rises. In this movement, Bali is a world where the natural and the artificial, the organic and the cultural are not separated from one another, but merge into one another.
In this world, when George Clooney suddenly wears colorful yoga pants, it’s sort of natural, and certainly not as funny and shocking as Cary Grant, who appears in Katharine Hepburn’s fluffy bathrobe in Bringing Up Baby.
Ticket to Paradise, 2022 – directed by Ol Parker. Book: Ol Parker, Daniel Pipski. Camera: Ole Bratt Birkeland. Music: Lorne Balfe. Editor: Peter Lambert. Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Kaitlyn Dever, Lucas Bravo, Billie Lourd, Maxime Bouttier, Senayt Mebrahtu, Vanessa Everett. Universal, 104 minutes. Theatrical release: September 15, 2022.