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Ticket To Paradise movie review: Romcom veterans George Clooney and Julia Roberts shine as conniving parents out to kibosh a wedding

Also reviewed this week: Moonage Daydream and Róise & Frank

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George Clooney and Julia Roberts make a great team in Ticket To Paradise

George Clooney and Julia Roberts make a great team in Ticket To Paradise

Brett Morgen had access to Bowie’s archives

Brett Morgen had access to Bowie’s archives

Bríd Ní Neachtain befriends a stray dog in Róise & Frank

Bríd Ní Neachtain befriends a stray dog in Róise & Frank

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George Clooney and Julia Roberts make a great team in Ticket To Paradise

Ticket To Paradise (12A, 104mins)

In Ticket to Paradise, two seasoned romcom heavyweights return to the ring to show the youngsters how it’s done.

Old friends and frequent associates, Julia Roberts and George Clooney look like they’re having a lot of fun in Ol Parker’s film, which was shot in climes tropical: the question is, are we? Overall, we probably are and it’s mainly down to them.

Divorcees David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) are parents to Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), a clever and likeable law graduate who travels to Bali for a holiday after completing her final exams. The ex-couple, who can’t stick the sight of one another, almost start a fight at her graduation, but must form a reluctant alliance when an emergency arises.

During a disastrous boat trip, Lily meets and falls in love with Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a winsome Balinese seaweed farmer, and now sends her parents a breezy email inviting them to her nuptials in the South Pacific.

Horrified by this sudden turn of events, David and Georgia decide that Lily is being hopelessly rash and agree to scupper the wedding using what they call a “Trojan horse” manoeuvre: that is, pretend to totally happy about the whole thing while secretly scheming to sabotage it.

This is not very mature behaviour, but David and Georgia will stop at nothing to deter Lily from making the same mistake they did — marrying on a whim in her early 20s. So they steal the wedding rings, upset the prospective in-laws and do their best to sow seeds of doubt in the young groom’s mind.

Gede is annoyingly nice and Lily really does seem to care about him, but once set on their destructive course, the battling divorcees are not for turning.

From adjoining rooms at an idyllic beachfront hotel, they bicker and reminisce and plot the wedding’s downfall. But all the while, one has the strong suspicion that people who annoy each other this much might just still be in love.

There is a retro feel to this film that extends beyond its attractively weathered stars. This is the kind of no-jeopardy, sex-light, feel-good romantic comedy Hollywood used to churn out by the dozen back in the 80s and 90s.

A good number of them starred Roberts and Clooney, and so it seems a mild nostalgic pleasure to settle back and watch them work, knowing in your heart that nothing very bad is going to happen to anybody.

It would be easy to pick holes in the film’s improbabilities. How in God’s name, for instance, do David and Georgina, who don’t even live in the same city, end up sitting accidentally beside each other on a flight to Bali?

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As if that’s not enough, Georgia’s smarmy French boyfriend Paul (Lucas Bravo) turns out to be flying the plane, and not all that well either.

Does a comedy need comic relief? If so, Paul will provide it, dropping on to one knee every five minutes and proposing to Georgia with puppy-dog eyes. Good luck with that, mate.

Gede’s extended family are given short shrift in a film whose focus is blithely occidental. The boy’s parents get to sling a few catty subtitled remarks at David and Georgia, but otherwise are smiling bystanders, extras on their own island.

Dever is an astonishingly talented young actress, as she proved in Olivia Wilde’s comedy Booksmart and the Oxycontin mini-series Dopesick: she could not overact if she tried, and plays it straight here as the dutiful daughter who seems much more mature than her parents.

Clooney throws the kitchen sink at his portrayal of David, a 60-odd-year-old man who seems perplexingly juvenile. He winks and gurns and grins into the camera and somehow gets away with it. And his lack of vanity during a mortifying ‘dad dancing’ scene does him credit.

Meanwhile, Roberts is on more thoughtful form, but now and then reminds us how very, very good she is at this romcom stuff: when she gets a laugh, she does so with rare elegance, and occasionally unleashes the blinding smile that once was Hollywood’s secret weapon.

Rating: Three stars

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Brett Morgen had access to Bowie’s archives

Brett Morgen had access to Bowie’s archives

Brett Morgen had access to Bowie’s archives

Moonage Daydream (15A, 140mins)

An assault on the senses in the best possible sense, Brett Morgen’s skilfully assembled documentary uses archive footage and voice-overs from the man himself to tell David Bowie’s remarkable story.

Granted access to the singer’s personal archive, he spent four years assembling this autobiographical kaleidoscope which proceeds in non-linear fashion and has a freedom of form. Morgen begins in 1972, at the height of Ziggy Stardust frenzy, as Bowie struggles to get used to life in the spotlight.

There are fabulous clips of him talking, of all people, to BBC chat show host Russell Harty via satellite from Los Angeles — a clash of cultures if ever there was one.

A serious drug problem almost derailed his career in the mid-70s before he retreated to West Berlin to create a celebrated trilogy of albums.

Morgen’s film uses music well, but also gives us a glimpse into Bowie’s other creative lives as actor, painter, sculptor. And there are no talking heads here, no learned assessments — just Bowie musing on life and art, mortality and how to cope with it. He coped pretty well. 

Rating: Four stars

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Bríd Ní Neachtain befriends a stray dog in Róise & Frank

Bríd Ní Neachtain befriends a stray dog in Róise & Frank

Bríd Ní Neachtain befriends a stray dog in Róise & Frank

Róise & Frank (PG, 90mins)

It’s two years since her cherished husband Frank died, but Róise (Bríd Ní Neachtain) still struggles to get out of bed in the morning and seems to have lost the will to live.

Then a stray dog turns up, a persistent hound who seems to know lots of things about Frank — his favourite food and chair, the route of his morning walk.

As uncanny instances mount, Róise becomes convinced that the mutt is the reincarnation of her husband, starts calling him Frank and cooking him steak. Her son (Cillian Ó Gairbhí) and a nosy neighbour (Lorcan Cranitch) are understandably concerned.

The latest in a series of excellent Irish language features, Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy’s film pulls off its whimsical premise with aplomb, and is nicely shot against the stunning backdrops of the Waterford Gaeltacht.

A subplot in which Frank the dog teaches a shy kid how to excel at hurling is a bit of a reach, but ultimately irresistible. As is this film, bolstered by fine performances from Ní Neachtain, Ó Gairbhí and a mildly villainous Lorcan Cranitch. 

Rating: Four stars


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