‘Ticket to Paradise’

A formulaic double rom-com as divorced parents rush overseas to prevent their daughter making the same mistake they did 20+ years earlier.

A trip to Bali to celebrate graduation sees Lili Cotton (Kaitlyn Dever – Booksmart, Dear Evan Hansen) fall for the young and handsome local, Gede (Maxime Bouttier – Hantu Gunung Kawi, Meet Me After Sunset). With his successful family business and its idyllic beachside setting, Lili decides to stay rather than return to a Chicago legal career. Cue the divorced, non-speaking parents George Clooney and Julia Roberts jumping on the next flight to prevent the planned marriage.

It’s the younger couple who are the adults as Clooney and Roberts combine to do what they can to stop the union. But, it being a beach-set rom-com with plenty of sunrises and sunsets along with ever-smiling natives and luxury hotels, Ticket to Paradise never takes itself seriously. A series of foolish, predictable scenarios are just-about saved by the bickering divorcees – but the reality is writer/director Ol Parker (Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Now Is Good) in an attempt to produce light, feel-good escapism has presented an embarassingly silly rom-com devoid of comedy.

Rating: 47%

‘Your Place or Mine’

Templated rom com as two best friends of 20 years discover the one night stand when they first met had more importance than they both realised.

Divorcee Debbie (Reese Witherspoon – Wild, Walk the Line) lives with her 10 year-old son Jack (Wesley Kimmel – TV’s Wanda Vision, The Book of Boba Fett) in suburban Los Angeles. She talks to New York-based Peter (Ashton Kutcher – No Strings Attached, Jobs), an in-demand marketing executive, virtually every day. When the possibility to pursue a long-held dream comes Debbie’s way and with it a week in New York, its the ideal occasion for the two to catch up. But plans go awry leaving Debbie in New York and Peter in LA with Jack. Lives change in unexpected ways as each impact on the other’s lifestyle in that single week.

Written and directed by Aline Brosh McKenna (writer of The Devil Wears Prada), it’s a breezy template of a feature that has its moments but one that would have likely worked more effectively with the rom com toned down and the drama ramped up.

Rating: 48%

‘Pillow Talk’

Made in 1959, Pillow Talk is a fun, early rom com ‘sex comedy’ where rivalry and sexual tension turns enemies into lovers.

Sharing a telephone party line, the uptight Jan (Doris Day – Send Me No Flowers, Calamity Jane) is constantly frustrated by songwriter and playboy Brad (Rock Hudson – Send Me No Flowers, Giant) hogging the line. Complaints fall on deaf ears until Brad bumps into her at the office of his best friend and publisher, Jonathan Forbes (Tony Randall – Send Me No Flowers, TV’s The Odd Couple ) – who is trying to make Jan wife number three. She becomes a challenge to the songwriter who, incognito, acts as a wealthy but lonely Texan out of his depth in New York City.

An Oscar-winning script sees splendid sparring between the two leads alongside a frequently overlooked Jonathan and the scene-stealing Thelma Ritter (Rear Window, All About Eve) as Jan’s alcoholic maid. The result, as directed by Michael Gordon (Move Over Darling, Cyrano de Bergerac), is a slick, sleek, flirtatious dramedy.

Nominated for 5 Oscars in 1960 including best actress and supporting actress, won 1 for best original screenplay.

Rating: 63%

‘Love Affair’

A tear-jerker from Hollywood’s Golden Age, Love Affair is regarded as one of the most tragic and romantic of all celluloid love stories.

A splendidly quick-witted Terry McKay (Irene Dunne – I Remember Mama, Life With Father) meets the debonair playboy, Michael Marnay (Charles Boyer – Gaslight, Fanny) aboard a luxury transatlantic liner. Whilst travelling alone, both are involved with others. Yet a romance blossoms and they agree to meet atop the Empire State Building in six months time if they remain interested in each other. But fate refuses to flow smoothly.

Directed by Leo McCarey (The Awful Truth, Going My Way), regarded as a master of mixing saccharine sentimentality and caustic comedy, Love Affair is an exceedingly well-written early rom-com, one that has soul.

Nominated for 6 Oscars in 1940 including best film, actress, supporting actress (Maria Ouspenskaya) and original script.

Rating: 64%


Too in-love – especially after several years of marriage – can be challenging for so-called friends and colleagues. But that’s the problem faced by Tom (Joel McHale – TV’s Community, The Great Indoors) and Janet (Kerry Bishé – Argo, TV’s Halt & Catch Fire). Things come to a head when they are uninvited to a weekend away – only to find themselves reinvited.

A rom-com, comedy thriller with an edge, a luxury getaway seems the perfect spot for relaxation, conversation, good food and wine. Wrong. Not everything is what it seems about the house, perfectly mirrored by the fact not everything is what it seems with the three other couples on the weekend break. Secrets, antagonisms and lies bubble to the surface as financial and sexual tensions are revealed. And there’s that dead body.

Intermittently funny, writer/director BenDavid Grabinski looks to observations about modern relationships. But with its stereotypes, the material is steered into too predictable a narrative.

Rating: 45%

‘What’s Your Number?’

A slightly above-average rom-com as Ally Darling (Anna Faris – The House Bunny, Brokeback Mountain) discovers that 20 is the maximum number of men she should have sex with before marrying – and she’s already reached 19. As she looks to her list of exes to see if one of them is her true love, so musician neighbour Colin (Chris Evans – Captain America, Knives Out) helps in the research (the list includes early Chris Pratt and Zachary Quinto roles!).

A tad risque for an American rom-com, Ally and Colin dredge up the men and off she goes to check them out. But in spite of the perfect (wealthy) match that brings much joy to mom (Blythe Danner – Meet the Parents, Little Fockers), it’s pretty obvious where this particular narrative is heading.

Director Mark Mylod (TV’s Entourage, Shameless) keeps the pace brisk and a laid back Evans is good eye candy to Feris’ manic quest. Formulaic it may be but its slight, crude edginess and discrete nudity steers the adaptation of the best selling novel from dull, whimsical vanilla.

Rating: 44%


A rom-com with a seasonal setting that develops into more – a series of holiday dates to avoid family expectation and loneliness. All very templated and all, as per the science of rom-coms, predictable.

Sloane (Emma Roberts – The Hunt, Billionaire Boys Club) is the single woman with family exerting pressure – even her 7 year-old niece seems to be better at dating. Meeting Australian Jackson (Luke Bracey – Hacksaw Ridge, The November Man) provides the perfect answer – for Christmas, New Year, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mexican Day of the Dead and so much more. Naturally each develop feelings for the other – but not at the same time.

The comedy aspect rarely fires on all cylinders in director John Whitesell’s (Thunderstruck, Big Momma’s House 2) feature. But as a lightweight, romantic drama, the first half of the story is more than passable. It’s only when the couple start to deal with the recognition of their feelings that Holidate goes badly wrong.

Rating: 40%

‘Love, Guaranteed’

Inane rom-com that screams its plot from the highest rooftops. Man meets woman, fall in love. OK – so that’s generally the narrative of every rom com, but there’s nothing wrong with a little subtly, a little mystery.

Not Love, Guaranteed as struggling lawyer Rachael Leigh Cook (She’s All That, Red Sky) falls for client Damon Wayans Jnr (The Other Guys, How To Be Single) as soon as she meets him. He’s sueing an on-line dating agency owned by Heather Graham (The Hangover, Boogie Nights) for failing to provide him with their guarantee – love.

The only good thing about a restrained, polite Love, Guaranteed is its brevity.

Rating: 32%

‘It Happened One Night’

It-happened-one-night-posterOne of only a handful of films that have claimed the Big Five at the Oscars (film, director, actor, actress, script), It Happened One Night was, according to star Claudette Colbert (Since You Went Away, Cleopatra), the worst picture in the world.

Opinions begged to differ as the somewhat minor rom-com proved to be a huge box-office smash – and made Colbert and Clarke Gable (Gone With the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty) stars. Spoilt rich-girl on the run from her family helped by a down-on-his-luck journalist in desperate need of a scoop, directed by Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life, You Can’t Take It With You), was the lightweight material to do it.

It’s fun, it’s amusing if somewhat minor, it is the chemistry in what is essentially a two-hander alongside a sparkling script from Robert Riskin (Meet John Doe, You Can’t Take It With You)  that make It Happened One Night an above average rom-com.

Nominated and won 5 Oscars in 1935.

Rating: 56%

‘Isn’t It Romantic’

Arguing against the value of romantic comedies with her secretary, underground car park architect Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids) suddenly finds herself stuck in her own romantic comedy world, the result of a bump on the head during a mugging.

Cue the everyday sleaze of New York replaced by pastel-coloured store fronts and flowering pot plants – and love on every street corner. But is it multimillionaire Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games, The Dressmaker) or daggy peer Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Why Him?) the answer to her dreams?

Sporadically funny, Wilson reprises many of her supporting character roles. Only she’s expected to carry this film and its weak material (director: Todd Strauss-Schulson, The Final Girls, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas). The result is a Rebel Wilson way out of her depth.

Rating: 34%