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Return to Paradise Photos

Movie Info

Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) and Tony (David Conrad) are three friends vacationing in Malaysia. Sheriff and Tony eventually leave to pursue careers in New York, but Lewis stays behind to work with orangutans. Two years later, Sheriff and Tony learn that, because of their past actions, Lewis has been arrested for drug possession. With Lewis facing a death sentence, the friends are left with a difficult decision: return to Malaysia and split Lewis' sentence, or let him die.

Cast & Crew

Vince Vaughn
John "Sheriff" Volgecherev
Anne Heche
Beth Eastern
Joaquin Phoenix
Lewis McBride
David Conrad
Tony Croft
David Arnold
Executive Producer
Ezra Swerdlow
Executive Producer
Mark Mancina
Original Music
Reynaldo Villalobos
Cinematographer
Craig McKay
Film Editor
Bill Groom
Production Design
Dennis Bradford
Art Direction
Betsy Klompus
Set Decoration
Juliet Polcsa
Costume Designer
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News & Interviews for Return to Paradise

Critic Reviews for Return to Paradise

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (13)

  • Quote not available.

    September 7, 2011 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • It's a painful prospect, to be sure, and Sheriff, in particular, insists he's no hero, but the next hour or so of handwringing conjures little suspense.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    July 12, 2002 | Rating: 3/4
  • What if director Joseph Ruben didn't resort to B-movie suspense tricks? What if the fine cast wasn't saddled with a shamelessly contrived script by Wesley Strick and Bruce Robinson?

    May 11, 2001
  • If it's to be experienced at all, Return to Paradise is best seen as a lively piece of pulp, not a profound exploration of the vagaries of the human soul.

    February 14, 2001 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4

Audience Reviews for Return to Paradise

  • Nov 10, 2011
    An original, thought-provoking film concerning three friends who party hard in Malaysia one summer (Vince Vaughn, Joaquin Phoenix, and David Conrad), where illegal substances are used frequently and the concentration is on just "having a good time". Flash forward a few years later, two of the buds (Vaughn and Conrad) already returned to the states while one of them (Phoenix) stayed behind, and a tenacious lawyer (Anne Heche) appears out of nowhere to inform them that their friend has been arrested for possession of hash, enough to put him to death under Malaysian laws. He is sentenced to hang, with the only exception being if one of the friends or both of them return home, in which case the three of them would do six or three years together respectively. It is a somewhat complicated plot, almost to the point where you start to question if this could actually happen (it might, just not here in the States), but the driving force behind this film remains the trio of performances from Vaughn (who has never been better), Phoenix (whose performance is simply chilling) and Heche (an utterly phenomenal turn), and how you sympathize with these characters. However, the film totally careens off course in its last third, when it seems as if a Hollywood studio kicked in the door and wrecked the creative writing process. It is a shame this movie becomes just "average" when the finale goes for conventional Hollywood story swings, including a laughable final shot that is supposed to be dramatic and uplifting, as well as a severe leap in logic concerning the fate of Vaughn's character. Not a bad movie by any means, but it could have been good or great if it wasn't hamstrung by a poorly put-together final act.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2010
    The intricate workings of the moral dilemma somehow overcome the melodrama. You could complain that the concept deserved to no give-ins to schmaltz from the directors, actors and the soundtrack... but including the schmaltz makes this movie a twisted, tragic version of The Hangover.
    Adam M Super Reviewer
  • May 18, 2010
    Coincidentally, got to see 2 movies focusing more or less on someone dealing with the fear to go to prison. While one movie (The 25th Hour) was a disappointment, this one was an amazing experience. The scene depicting Joaquin Phoenix's condition in the prison was brilliant. Joaquin Phoenix played that part incredibly well, keeping it simple, sans any overacting. Highly recommended. SPOILERS: The ending was what I though it'd be, but it didn't happen the way I thought. My idea was that ultimately Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix) would ask Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) and Tony (David Conrad) to not to admit their part in crime & return. He wishes to be hanged because he feels that he'd never be able to get back to what he was (completely sane) after the bitter years he spent in prison. He now looks up on his execution as his freedom. While I found the actual ending equally okay, my only problem was with the all-of-a-sudden "media" twist which was a bit hard to digest. Overlooking that, it was wonderfully done.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2008
    This movie was amazing, one of Vince Vaugn's best movies.
    Kevin L Super Reviewer

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