“Why save the good stuff for later?”
Story: Lily just graduated from law school! Mazel! Now she and her BFF are hitting Bali for a graduation vacation. Cut to a few weeks in, and Lily has fallen hard for local seaweed farmer, Gede. Engaged, hard. Problem? Her divorced parents don’t want her to ruin her life by jumping into marriage…for fear she’ll only end up like them, bitter. OR ARE THEY.
Genre I’d put it in: Travelog Rom-coms
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Original, though the plot is similar to the usual Rom-com boilerplate
Gotta say: This one’s for the folks who just want to see Julia and George have a blast, and maybe wanna plan a trip to Bali. Because J&G, along with the breathtaking views of Bali, are the reasons for catching Paradise. Pity the plot is hollow. But hey, views! Fun! I firmly believe that the cast took this gig so they could spend some time on Bali. And who can hate that? Not I.
The good? Well, see above. If you’re a fan of Julia Roberts and/or George Clooney, you’ll get more than your money’s worth watching these two real life buddies ham it up, and get down. (As a GenX-er? Yes, we do dance like that. Yes, we do do that on purpose to embarrass the youngsters with us. And yes, we give zero.) Throw in the always delightful Billie Lourd as Lily’s BFF, and the caliber of this film is much higher than it should be. Ditto for the art direction and cinematography; talk about perfection. I’m wanting to go to Bali right now.
The bad? Well, the plot is well nigh nonexistent. Parents try to make wedding go boom. That’s all. Side characters like Lourd’s Wren and Lucas Bravo’s boytoy Paul could have been cut altogether and made no impact on the plot whatsoever. They felt like padding, which is an absolute crime. These two could have been more integral to the plot, but lazy writing strikes again. Any movie that wastes Lourd like this should be charged with crimes against humanity.
Then there’s the instalove between Lily and Gede, the young couple whose engagement drives the story. I get they’re young and besotted. But with Lily having just graduated from law school (and another thing; law school is three years not four, movie), suddenly pitching it all to do…nothing in Bali feels, well, out of character. At least it would, if she had had any moments where we could understand who she is. Or at least give us a hint of what she’ll be doing at her new home; Gede has a sister who’s studying to be a doctor. So it would have been cool to see Lily becoming an important part of the area as well. Maybe helping those family businesses thrive?
And don’t get me started on the rich white people privilege of attending law school and then chucking it all, with nary a peep of “but all the money we spent” from her parental units. Ah well. Yeah, this is definitely an upper class fever dream of perfection and grace, so go in knowing you’ll most likely be slack-jawed at how the other half lives. But dang it’s pretty though.
Okay, I’m tired and you’ll either be 100% down for this movie, or you won’t be. So I’ll just say that Paradise is a decent way to spend almost two hours at the multiplex. But it’s really Hallmark dressed as Cinema. So don’t feel bad if you wait for streaming. At least with streaming you can pause and soak up all that glorious Bali gorgeousness.
#Protip: Bali’s seaweed farming is cool as heck. But it’s really a way of life that harks back to pre-tourism days.