Ticket To Paradise review: George Clooney, Julia Roberts in an unoriginal romcom | Hollywood


We don’t ask for much, us rom-com devotees. Especially in this age where one is starved of romance on the big screen. We miss the meet-cutes, the impossibly charming banter, the grand against-all-odds love story. For us, at their best, these touching stories of love and laughter can often house heartfelt humanity and gentle life lessons within their glossy packaging. Particularly for those of us who are forever seeking the relatable within the aspirational. Forever in search of how reel can add meaning to real. Enter Julia Roberts and George Clooney-starrer Ticket To Paradise which looks to fill the rom-com-shaped hole in our lives and mount the movie-stars-falling-in-love story on the big screen once again.

David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) were college sweethearts. Hopelessly in love, they got married at a young age and had a daughter. 5 years on, real life caught up to their fairy tale, contempt trounced connection and the two had a messy divorce. 20 years later, their fresh-out-of-law-school daughter Lily (Kaityln Dever), dares to make the same mistake. What should’ve been a routine holiday in Bali before embarking on her new life as a lawyer, leads to Lily falling in love with Bali local Gede (a suitably charming Maxime Bouttier). A mere month later, Lily tells her parents she’s getting married. So, bickering exes David and Georgia call a temporary truce and set out to the island paradise to dedicate the trip to breaking up Lily and Gede and stopping their daughter from making the same mistake they did. And, of course, as they plot and plan to make their daughter see reason, old feelings resurface between the two.

These are promising, interesting ideas. Ex-spouses living in contempt and regret. The idea of traveling to an exotic location (this movie is basically Bali tourism porn) and being removed from your world to gain a new perspective on your life. The messy intersection between your own romantic failures and parenthood. Or even whether crazy, instantaneous, overnight love can truly exist (But more on this later).

But Ticket To Paradise isn’t interested in exploring these more mature, meaningful ideas. Instead, director Ol Parker (Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again) along with co-writer Daniel Pipski want to mount a frothy, feel-good, surface-level rom-com, at which they’re largely successful. Ticket To Paradise is hardly the kind of rom-com we’ll remember a year from now. But it nonetheless delivers on its promise – transporting us to an improbably-charming-good-looking-people world, to make us temporarily forget ours. And there is still, I think, power in that. In taking us back to a less complicated time.

On the rom-com spectrum of light laughs (Just Go With It, The Proposal, Long Shot) to more meaningful explorations of matters of the heart (500 Days Of Summer, About Time, The Half Of It), Ticket To Paradise certainly belongs to the former. A somewhat self-aware movie that seeks to merely tick the boxes of the by-the-book comfort watch. Especially in the humour-heavy first leg of the proceedings, Ticket To Paradise sails off the back of the sparkling, lovably comfortable chemistry between George Clooney and Julia Roberts. As two bickering, arguing-over-the-armrest ex-spouses forever at each other’s throats, the stars share a delightfully childish, catty dynamic. (Georgia even as her ex-husband’s number saved on her phone as “Him”).

George Clooney and Julia Roberts play a divorced ex-couple.

But where the narrative gets shaky is towards its final leg, where (you’d hope) feeling takes precedence over frivolity. But Ticket To Paradise refuses to go beyond the surface. In its grand emotional culmination, the film just doesn’t manage to pack the emotional punch you’d hope, in terms of Georgia and David finally accepting themselves and their daughter. For one, while making a big, apparently heartfelt emotional speech to profess his love, Gede unironically refers to Lily as a “poem of a person”. It may be the single dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and I will be using it indefinitely.

We do, however, get a few shining moments of poignancy where the characters (and the film) are at their least animated and behave like actual grown-ups. When Lily, for example, in a moment of reverse parenting, confronts Georgia about why she’s considering staying with the young boytoy she’s been seeing. “Being loved is not the same as loving”, she says. Or similarly in a scene early, where Lily’s best friend Wren (a spunky Billie Lourd) is at a bar with David, and she asks him why his marriage to Georgia broke down. When he relays the story, you can feel the buried hurt in his voice. It’s also the rare moment where the film seems to know what to do with Wren. At times the cookie, comic relief, and at others the mature voice of reason. (And I guess we just assume that no one else from Lily’s life was invited to her wedding aside from her parents and best friend…).

Also, I’m sorry, but there is no amount of glamorous people, cutesie love and manipulative movie magic that can convince me that this wedding that’s central to the plot of this movie is a good idea. For Lily to marry someone she’s just met after knowing them for just 37 days is clinically insane. You’re in love. Great. So be in love. Be together. Why she feels the need to make a massive life decision based on it is beyond me. Youths I tell you. Instead, it’s a movie that works better as a story about people who do truly insane things when traveling to stunning islands.

Despite its unevenness or that it doesn’t particularly win big on heart or humour, Ticket To Paradise is a pleasant, gentle watch. Is it particularly memorable in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. But is it a sweet, gentle smile-inducing balm on a difficult day? Certainly.



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