Ticket To Paradise (12A, 104 min)
Verdict: starry sky but weak
Don’t worry baby (15, 122 minutes)
Verdict: More Styles Than Content
There are more stars in this week’s two major releases than I think will be awarded by critics. Ticket To Paradise is a particular disappointment; an A-list cast – George Clooney and Julia Roberts – in a B-minus movie.
It’s a rom-com that relies way too much on the undisputed charisma and chemistry of its leads to scatter stardust on a hackneyed premise where two people who hate each other fall in love.
We’ve seen it a thousand times before in better photos; indeed, it is the most shadowy of comedic devices, dating back to that of The Philadelphia Story (1940).
If the writing and plotting are sharp enough, as they’ve done in films like The Goodbye Girl (1977), Groundhog Day (1993), and The Proposal (2009) over the decades, it will always be a winning formula. But Ticket To Paradise, directed and co-written by Ol Parker (whose credits include 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), doesn’t tick those boxes.
The set-up has a pair of bitterly divorced parents, David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts), who find rare common ground in an attempt to stop their beloved only daughter, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), from marrying a Balinese seaweed farmer who she has. met on vacation. They are stunned at the thought that she is making the same mistake she is.
Practically by definition, rom-coms don’t need to be taken too seriously, of course. That this film reunites two of modern cinema’s great twinkling stars may be enough for some, while others may rejoice in the cosmic misfortune of David and Georgia sitting ‘unexpectedly’ next to each other at Lily’s graduation and then on the long flight. to Bali where, guess what, they are shocked again when they get adjoining hotel rooms.
Ticket To Paradise is a particular disappointment; an A-list cast – George Clooney and Julia Roberts (pictured together) – in a B-minus movie
For my money, this is predictable fare, lazily plotted and scripted, and it gets even more predictable as the visiting Americans are left wide-eyed by the quaint local customs
For my money, this is predictable fare, lazily plotted and scripted, and it gets even more predictable as the visiting Americans are left wide-eyed by the quaint local customs. . . though not by the much more amazing fact that Lily’s purposeful, mischievous Gede (Maxime Bouttier), speaks English (after his life in Balinese seaweed farming) more like an Indiana native than Indonesia.
Classic movie on TV
The Dambreakers (1955)
Apparently a remake is in the works and I can understand why, but nothing will ever overshadow the original, with Richard Todd, himself a true war hero, playing the great Wing Commander Guy Gibson.
Saturday, C5, 6.40 pm
But if anyone can give all this nonsense a much-needed lift, it’s Clooney and Roberts, who first collaborated on Ocean’s Eleven (2001). However, this is their first rom-com together, and they somehow manage to make the dubious dialogue sing, although not even Roberts can bring much dignity to fortune-telling sermons about parenting, including the solemn statement that “a parent will do anything for their child, except be exactly who they are.”
It’s hardly a spoiler to let that know, as David and Georgia realize how wrong it is for them to try to sabotage their daughter’s wedding so that they gradually rediscover the attractions that brought them together in the first place (a process that is mildly and not very amusingly complicated) by her younger friend, a French pilot). In a way, a similar comparison applies to the film: little by little, the shortcomings seem less important than the amiability.
That said, the release date, originally set a week ago today, was postponed until after the Queen’s funeral. I wish I could recommend it as the perfect cinematic tonic to cheer up a despondent nation. Unfortunately, I really can’t.
Like Ticket To Paradise, Don’t Worry Darling, which I reviewed in more detail earlier this month at the Venice Film Festival, 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), formerly of One Direction, in his first lead role. He and Florence Pugh (right) play a married couple, Jack and Alice Chambers, who live in suburban Victory, California, a town of 1950s homes and cars.
It is a psychological thriller starring pop superstar Harry Styles, formerly of One Direction, in his first lead role. He and Florence Pugh play a married couple, Jack and Alice Chambers, who live in the suburb of Victory, California, a town of 1950s homes and cars. The spouses all work for a mysterious venture called the Victory Project, run by a creepy guru named Frank (Chris Pine).
Everyone in town is captivated by Frank, though Jack and Alice are equally captivated by their loins. They can’t keep their hands off each other, with Jack being particularly interested in a particular sexual act. Let’s say he only has one direction in mind.
But this is a movie more about the women. The story gradually enters the picture: it deals with the subjugation of women, yet another expression of the feminist crusades exemplified by MeToo and Time’s Up.
The story gradually enters the picture: it deals with the subjugation of women, yet another expression of the feminist crusades, illustrated by MeToo and Time’s Up
There’s nothing wrong with that, even if a sudden retelling of the story in modern times throws any pretense of subtlety 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 has reportedly fallen for her lead on set – just isn’t very good.
It’s a shame, because Pugh gives a fine, punchy performance as a housewife battling social and psychological manipulation, and the film is great to watch, with a great soundtrack from the period.
But it’s at least three parts style (and two parts styles) for 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 have loved to interview on his chat show, but never did.
Frank Sinatra answered, but his wife Mary was there, moaning. “You always say that!” she said. “I wish you’d choose Sidney Poitier. That would have been much more interesting.’
Fortunately, Poitier (who died in January at age 94) did give interviews, and many clips pop up in Sidney (12A, 111 min, ****), a respectful but thoroughly enjoyable documentary produced by Oprah Winfrey (who also contributes as a talking head, along with the many daughters of Denzel Washington, Barbra Streisand, Halle Berry and Poitier). Speaking of his poverty-stricken childhood in the Bahamas, where his parents were tomato growers, Poitier recalls not seeing a car until his teens.
He couldn’t read either. But he also didn’t know what racial discrimination was until his parents, worried that he was hanging out with the wrong people, sent him to Miami, Florida.
Speaking of his shabby childhood in the Bahamas, where his parents were tomato growers, Poitier (pictured in In The Heat of The Night) recalls not seeing a car until his teens.
The film chronicles his early steps as an actor (at the American Negro Theater in New York, where he studied Harry Belafonte) and then his steady transformation into an Oscar-winning movie star, as well as a figurehead in the civil rights movement.
“Vote and the choice is yours, don’t vote and the choice is theirs,” he advised in a 1960s commercial aimed at African Americans. They are fascinating things.
Juniper (15, 94 mins, ***), a feature film debut from writer-director Matthew Saville, centers on the relationship between a cranky, gin-drinking older woman (Charlotte Rampling) and the teenage Kiwi grandson she just met when she arrives. to New Zealand to recover from a badly broken leg.
It’s rather formal, but newcomer George Ferrier does quite well as the boy, mourning the death of his mother and loathing the arrival of this belligerent old stranger until, predictably, they begin to bond. Rampling, as always, is great.
Sidney is in select theaters and on Apple TV+. Juniper is now in theaters.