Return To Paradise

Return To Paradise

3.3 3
Director: Joseph Ruben

Cast: Joseph Ruben, Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix


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This remake of Force Majeure (aka Uncontrollable Circumstances), a 1989 film with Alan Bates and Kristin Scott Thomas, recalls the prison plight depicted in Midnight Express (1978). Rambling around Asia, getting high and just having a good time, are three young men -- Sheriff (Vince Vaughn), Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), and Tony (David Conrad).…  See more details below


This remake of Force Majeure (aka Uncontrollable Circumstances), a 1989 film with Alan Bates and Kristin Scott Thomas, recalls the prison plight depicted in Midnight Express (1978). Rambling around Asia, getting high and just having a good time, are three young men -- Sheriff (Vince Vaughn), Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), and Tony (David Conrad). Sheriff and Tony say goodbye to Lewis, a conscientious Greenpeace activist and nature-lover who stays on to rescue endangered Borneo orangutans. Two years later, Tony is an architect about to marry, and Sheriff has a job driving a limo around New York City. When Beth (Anne Heche) steps into Sheriff's limo, she tells him that she's a lawyer working to save Lewis. He learns that Lewis was arrested by Malaysian authorities, tried as a drug dealer, convicted, and sentenced to death. Sheriff's actions of trashing a borrowed bicycle and casually disposing of 100 grams of hash make him responsible for Lewis's predicament, but does he feel guilty enough to get involved? The execution is only eight days away, but it will not happen if Tony and/or Sheriff return to also serve time -- three years each if both come back, but six years if only one returns. Investigating this story is reporter M.J. Major (Jada Pinkett Smith), who views the situation as an important international news story. Tony readily agrees to go back and save Lewis -- but only if Sheriff also returns with him. Sheriff initially declines, prompting the desperate Beth to find ways to convince him to go. Complicating matters, Sheriff and Beth begin to find they are attracted to each other. Eventually, all fly to Malaysia during the final 24 hours before the execution. Director Joseph Ruben filmed in Hong Kong, Macao, and Thailand, with Malaysian prison interiors shot in Philadelphia.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Although it's hardly up to the level of the superlative Midnight Express, Return to Paradise offers a well-oiled Hollywood take on the venerable foreign-prisons-are-hell genre (see also: Papillon, Brokedown Palace). The script, by Batman Returns scribe Wesley Strick and Jennifer 8 writer/director Bruce Robinson, pushes all the correct, crowd-pleasing emotional buttons. Chief victim Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lovable Greenpeace activist. Reluctant savior Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) must abandon a tentative romance with lawyer Beth (Anne Heche) if he wants to save his former buddy's life. And reporter M.J. (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a plucky professional whose newshound instincts nevertheless have unexpected and negative repercussions. That all of these well-worn emotional arcs resolve into anything but a treacly mess is the result of fine performances from all involved. Credit also goes to director Joseph Ruben -- previously known for the uninspired work-for-hire of Sleeping With the Enemy -- whose low-key realism and moments of melancholy add distinction to the proceedings. Return to Paradise is never less than watchable.

Product Details

Release Date:
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Polygram Usa Video
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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vince Vaughn Sheriff
Anne Heche Beth
Joaquin Phoenix Lewis
David Conrad Tony
Vera Farmiga Kerrie
Nick Sandow Ravitch
Jada Pinkett Smith M.J. Major

Technical Credits
Joseph Ruben Director
David Arnold Executive Producer
Alain Bernheim Producer
Kathryn Bihr Makeup
Dennis Bradford Art Director
Keith Campbell Stunts
Kathleen Chopin Casting
Steve Golin Producer
Bill Groom Production Designer
Jason Kliot Co-producer
Betsy Klompus Set Decoration/Design
David Knox Camera Operator
Kevin Lee Sound Editor
Bruce MacCallum Camera Operator
Mark Mancina Score Composer
Craig McKay Editor
Andrew Mondshein Editor
Elaine Offers Makeup
Juliet Polcsa Costumes/Costume Designer
Jimmy N. Roberts Stunts
Bruce Robinson Screenwriter
William Sarokin Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Steele Asst. Director
Wesley Strick Screenwriter
Ezra Swerdlow Executive Producer
Reynaldo Villalobos Cinematographer

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Return To Paradise 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where to start? First,the script is lousy. Second,a nothing 'love story.' Third,the poor supporting cast. Finally,further proof Anne Heche couldn't act her way out of a parking ticket! I can't fault Joaquin for anything except signing on the dotted line. He gives the only convincing performance and his character is the only one you care about.Yet,you don't see enough of him here. This ranks #2 as one of Joaq's worst films ('To Die For' has the dubious honor of being #1). This movie's true crime is it left me feeling empty. Indeed,I wasn't even challenged by the 'moral dilemma.' If you want to see Joaquin in a better film that will leave you feeling challenged,pick up 'Quills.' It's better written,the cast is great,the moral dillema is better dealt with,and you get more Joaquin. I know 'Quills' is graphic,but be brave! As for 'Return to Paradise,' it leaves you with nothing to ponder,nor does it reveal answers to the questions it's allegedly asking. Vote with your wallet or time and say no to 'Paradise.' Thank you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is heartbreaking, frustrating, and ultimately tragic. I don't think it's for everybody. It's very much a "downer" but it tells a great, complex story and it is very moving. Joaquin Phoenix's performance in it is AMAZING- I would watch it for him alone, he's that good in this. The film will not leave you happy and satisfied, however. It's unsettling and deeply moving. Watch it, but just know that it's a great film that gives more questions than answers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago