Even George and Julia Can’t Save This Romance: BRIAN WEINER reviews Ticket To Paradise


Ticket to Heaven (12A, 104 minutes)

Rating: **

Verdict: Stellar, but weak

Don’t Worry Baby (15, 122 minutes)

Rating: **

Verdict: More style than substance

The two big releases this week have more stars than I imagine critics will give them credit for. Ticket To Paradise is a particular disappointment; an A-list cast – George Clooney and Julia Roberts – in a B-minus movie.

It’s a romantic comedy that relies too much on the undoubted charisma and chemistry of its leads to sprinkle stardust on a threadbare premise where two people who hate each other fall in love.

We’ve seen it a thousand times before in better pictures; indeed, it is the most amazing of comedic techniques, reaching the likes of The Philadelphia Story (1940).

If the script and plot are sharp enough, as they have been over the decades in films like The Goodbye Girl (1977), Groundhog Day (1993) and The Proposal (2009), this will always be a winning formula. But Ticket To Paradise, directed and co-written by Al Parker (whose credits include 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), doesn’t tick those boxes.

The script features a pair of bitterly divorced parents, David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts), who find rare common ground in an attempt to prevent their beloved only daughter Lily (Caitlin Dever) from marrying a Balinese farmer who has seaweed. they met on vacation. They are horrified at the thought of her making the same mistake they did.

Practically by definition, of course, romcoms shouldn’t be taken too seriously. That this film reunites two of the biggest stars of modern cinema may be enough for some, while others may enjoy the cosmic misfortune of David and Georgia being “unexpectedly” seated next to each other at Lily’s graduation, and after that of the long flight to Bali where, guess what, they are again horrified to get adjoining hotel rooms.

Ticket To Paradise is a particular disappointment;  A-list cast ¿ George Clooney and Julia Roberts (pictured together)¿ in a B-minus movie

Ticket To Paradise is a particular disappointment; an A-list cast — George Clooney and Julia Roberts (pictured together) — in a B-minus film

For my money, this is predictable fare, lazily drawn and written, and it gets even more predictable as the visiting Americans are left wide-eyed by the strange local customs

For my money, this is predictable fare, lazily drawn and written, and it gets even more predictable as the visiting Americans are left wide-eyed by the strange local customs

For my money, this is predictable fare, lazily drawn and written, and made even more predictable as the visiting Americans are left wide-eyed by the strange local customs. . . though not because of the far more surprising fact that Lily’s intended low-key Gedde (Maxime Bouthier) speaks English (having farmed Balinese seaweed all his life) more like a native of Indiana than Indonesia.

Classic TV movie

The Dam Busters (1955)

A remake is obviously in the works and I can understand why, but nothing will ever outshine the original, with Richard Todd, a true war hero himself, playing the great Wing Commander Guy Gibson.

Saturday, C5, 18.40

Still, if anyone can give all this nonsense a much-needed boost, it’s Clooney and Roberts, who first teamed up in Ocean’s Eleven (2001). This is their first romantic correspondence together, though, and they somehow manage to make her questionable dialogue ring, though even Roberts can’t bring much dignity to the cookie-cutter sermons about parenthood, which include the solemn remark that “the parent will do anything for their child except let them be exactly as they are.’

It’s hardly a spoiler to say that, as David and Georgia realize how wrong it was for them to try to sabotage their daughter’s wedding, so they gradually rediscover the attraction that brought them together in the first place (a mild and not very fun process composed by her younger boyfriend, a French pilot). In a sense, a similar equation applies to the film: little by little, its flaws seem less significant than its kindness.

However, the release date, originally set for today a week ago, has been pushed back to after the Queen’s funeral. I wish I could recommend it as the perfect cinematic tonic to cheer up a dejected nation. Alas, I really can’t.

Like Ticket To Paradise, Don’t Worry Darling, which I reviewed in more detail at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, has faint echoes of much better films, such as The Stepford Wives (1975) and The Truman Show ( 1998).

It's a psychological thriller starring pop superstar Harry Styles (left), a former member of One Direction, in his first leading role.  He and Florence Pugh (right) play a married couple, Jack and Alice Chambers, who live in the suburban utopia of Victory, California, a town of 1950s houses and cars.

It’s a psychological thriller starring pop superstar Harry Styles (left), a former member of One Direction, in his first leading role. He and Florence Pugh (right) play a married couple, Jack and Alice Chambers, who live in the suburban utopia of Victory, California, a town of 1950s houses and cars.

It’s a psychological thriller starring pop superstar Harry Styles, formerly of One Direction, in his first leading role. He and Florence Pugh play a married couple, Jack and Alice Chambers, who live in the suburban utopia of Victory, California, a town of 1950s houses and cars. The husbands all work for a mysterious enterprise called the Victory Project, run by a creepy guru named Frank (Chris Pine).

Everyone in town is captivated by Frank, although Jack and Alice are equally captivated to their waists. They can’t keep their hands off each other, with Jack particularly interested in a certain sexual act. Let’s just say he only has one direction on his mind.

But this is a film more about wives. The story gradually comes into focus: it is about the subjugation of women, another expression of the feminist crusades exemplified by MeToo and Time’s Up.

The story gradually comes into focus: it is about the subjugation of women, another expression of the feminist crusades exemplified by MeToo and Time¿s Up

The story gradually comes into focus: it is about the subjugation of women, another expression of the feminist crusades exemplified by MeToo and Time’s Up

There’s nothing wrong with that, even if a sudden narrative lurch into the modern day sends any pretense of subtlety crashing to the ground.

No, the bigger problem is that Don’t Worry Darling — directed by Olivia Wilde, who also plays Alice’s best friend and is said to have developed a crush on the leading man on set — just isn’t much good.

It’s a shame, because Pugh gives a wonderful, stormy performance as a housewife struggling with social and psychological manipulation, and the film is great to watch throughout, with a rocking period soundtrack.

But it’s at least three parts style (and two parts styles) to one part substance.

How Poitier Traded the Tomato Farm for the Oscars

A few years ago, I asked Michael Parkinson the unoriginal old question: who would he like to interview on his chat show, but never did.

Frank Sinatra came to answer, but his wife Mary was there, moaning. “You always say that!” she said. “I wish you would choose Sidney Poitier. That would be much more interesting.

Fortunately, Poitier (who died in January, aged 94) gave interviews and many clips popped up in Sydney (12A, 111 mins, ****), a respectable but thoroughly enjoyable documentary produced by Oprah Winfrey (who also contributes as a talking head, along with Denzel Washington, Barbra Streisand, Halle Berry and Poitier’s many daughters). Speaking of his impoverished childhood in the Bahamas, where his parents were tomato farmers, Poitier recalls never even seeing a car until his teenage years.

He couldn’t read either. But he didn’t know what racial discrimination was until his parents, worried he was hanging out with the wrong crowd, sent him to Miami, Florida.

Speaking about his poor childhood in the Bahamas, where his parents were tomato farmers, Poitier (pictured in In The Heat of The Night) recalls not even seeing a car until he was a teenager

Speaking about his poor childhood in the Bahamas, where his parents were tomato farmers, Poitier (pictured in In The Heat of The Night) recalls not even seeing a car until he was a teenager

The film chronicles his early steps as an actor (at the American Negro Theater in New York, as Harry Belafonte’s stand-in) and then his steady transformation into an Oscar-winning movie star as well as a figure in the civil rights movement.

“Vote and the choice is yours, don’t vote and the choice is theirs,” he advised in a 1960s ad targeting African-Americans. This is fascinating stuff.

Juniper (15.94 mins, ***), the feature debut of writer-director Matthew Saville, is about the relationship between an edible, gin-drinking old woman (Charlotte Rampling) and Kiwi’s teenage grandson, whom she doesn’t know until she arrives in New Zealand to recover from a badly broken leg.

It’s pretty formulaic, but newcomer George Ferrier does a decent job as the boy grieving his mother’s death and resenting the arrival of this belligerent old stranger as, predictably, the two begin to bond. Rampling, as always, is great.

Sydney is in select theaters and on Apple TV+. Juniper is now in theaters.



Source link