By Jana Monji, AsAmNews Staff Arts & Culture Reporter
In Ticket to Paradise, two divorced parents follow their daughter to Bali to prevent her from getting married to a local she just met. The island culture works its magic to heal this family and while the attitude toward the local culture seems relatively sensitive, the focus is on the parents, exploiting the chemistry of Julia Roberts and George Clooney.
The above trailer tells the whole story. It begins with Lily Cotton (Kaitlyn Dever) bracing herself for graduation: Her parents, bickering divorced parents, David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts), will be sitting together. College graduation is a triggering event because decades earlier Georgia graduated and planned to move far away, David suddenly proposed. Georgia and David’s have different memories and perspectives on how and why that happened, but in the end, David and Georgia got married, had a kid and then, after five years, called it quits.
After each parent makes an embarrassing and competitive public declaration of their love and support of their daughter, Lily escapes to Bali with her bestie Wren (Billie Lourd). In Bali, the bikini-clad besties end an afternoon of snorkeling left behind by their tour boat and wondering if they can swim to shore. Luckily, a tall, dark and handsome local in baggie shorts, Gede (Maxime Bouttier) is driving by in a boat. For Lily, it is instant love.
Gede is a seaweed farmer living in a large airy bungalow on the shore, just yards away from the baskets where his seaweed grows. A little over a month later, Lily informs her parents she’s getting married. David and Georgia board an airplane to Bali and scheme to sabotage the wedding, even before meeting Gede.
Although France-born Indonesian Bouttier plays the fiancé, he can’t hold his own on screen against Clooney, Roberts and Dever. His Gede seems underdeveloped and doesn’t have comedic moments to shine even in comparison with Lucas Bravo who plays Georgia’s handsome French pilot boyfriend Paul. He is so overly supportive he smothers all the combative competitiveness of Roberts’ Georgia.
Ol Parker and Daniel Pipski’s script and Parker’s direction does show us aspects of Bali culture with, what seems to someone who has never been to Bali, sensitivity, but if cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland postcard perfect Bali has you already planning your next vacay, you should know this was predominately filmed in Australia.
Overall, Ticket to Paradise might sell you on a vacation to Bali and the supposed carefree life in Bali, particularly on a seaweed farm, but as a film, it’s little more than a cool breezy vehicle to showcase the comedic chemistry between Clooney and Roberts. Having a White person’s story play out in a predominately non-White region isn’t new. It is all too familiar. This film is enjoyable but still stuck in a White person’s fantasy genre where the locals are wise guides to nature but are standing at the sidelines.
AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Please fill out this 2-minute survey which we will use to improve our content. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.”