Ticket To Paradise: Real Men Wear Sarongs

Sparring couple at war join forces to stop their daughter marrying a man they deem unsuitable. Travelling to beautiful locations. Julia Roberts and George Clooney — what could could possibly go wrong? Well, they forgot the comedy.

In the style of the screwball comedies of the 1940s, George Clooney and Julia Roberts are a divorced couple still trying to parent their daughter and politely, acidly hating each other at every opportunity. The ultimate embarrassing parents — their daughter flees on a gap year to Bali to escape their arguments and snipes at each other.

Here she is rescued by an entrepreneur who has a family seaweed farm and international distribution operation, and discovers what’s important — family, ecology, reasonable discussion and commitment. Her engagement freaks her parents out and has them in a united scurrying to an exotic beautiful location to sabotage her plans and get her back on track as a career, high flying lawyer.

Whilst Clooney and Roberts bickering is initially amusing as is Julia Robert’s pilot partner flying them to Bali, things get less funny as the parents seek to manipulate/protect their daughter from behind a polite, fake smile veneer. Only her financee is onto the parents' duplicity and seeking to love his future in-laws, doesn’t share what he knows. Schemes include stealing ceremonial rings, embarrassing dancing in public, sowing doubt and taking the unmarried couple to the cursed island of doom. Stuck on an island overnight, their plotting is discovered and well, will the marriage even take place now?

The camera seems more focused on the beautiful surroundings than bringing together the comedy. The laughs could have been tighter, instead jumping awkwardly from snarks to slapstick comedy and lazily relying on a lot of othering stereotypes — such as the future mother-in-law who says a lot which translates as little; the family where only the father can speak really good English; the ‘ethnic’ traditions which are real, authentic, community, tradition focused. Somehow Roberts character quickly ditches her kind, reliable, steady, loving, committed boyfriend for her grumpy, selfish, rude ex after years of hating on each other. Again, a stereotype is perpetrated that real women want Heathcliffs, not good, loving, trustworthy men! (Although some serious back story exposition is spannered in last minute to make Clooney’s character more giving and less horrible in the past).

Really this is Maxime Bouttier’s movie as he shows that he has a strong supportive community and family, good and healthy family relationships, is kind and considerate, communicates clearly and really tries to avoid all the negativity that the parents have brought with them. Even in discerning what the parents are up to, he still seeks to love and bring about reconciliation. Kaitlyn Dever does well in navigating what is essentially a ‘pretty’ part by bringing some strength to it. The best friend Wren is woefully unwritten — what does she do when abandoned by her friend for great love? Similarly abandoned is Lucas Bravo (the pilot) — no idea what happens to him once ditched by Julia Roberts?!! (or how a long-term relationship is ended so easily and quickly). Also wondering how they get their abandoned luggage back as flights etc are presumably booked? This movie is worth watching for Gede’s dad who is a complete wind-up merchant and challenges stereotypes and othering with every scene he’s in!

Overall could have been a lot tighter, sharper, smarter and less location driven, a waste of some really good actors. Recommend not staying for any of the bloopers at the end — somehow they are not funny at all, though everyone is laughing in them. They feel very staged, much like the locations which are not Bali, but Australia!

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Susan Tailby

Susan Tailby

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By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....