Ticket to Paradise

By: Jeff Ching

When I first saw the trailer for Ticket to Paradise, opening with that scene of George Clooney and Julia Roberts as two divorcees who don’t want to sit beside each other on the plane, I wondered whether this was some kind of spin-off of Oceans 11.  How interesting of an idea for these characters to get their own movie;  an aftermath of what happened to their relationship after that big heist…or multiple heists.  I forgot how many sequels they made!  But, enough of me playing fantasy screenwriter. Clooney and Roberts play new characters in Ticket to Paradise, but they’re reuniting in a very old fashioned, formulaic, by-the-numbers rom-com.

The 2020s, or “the pandemic years”, have brought us some unique rom-coms that have freshened up the genre: Palm Springs, Fire Island, I Want You Back, and Entergalactic just to name a few.  Ticket to Paradise is a step backwards, unfortunately, that makes this year’s equally formulaic star-studded rom-com The Lost City appear superior in comparison.

Ticket to Paradise is by no means an egregiously bad movie.  It’s just disappointing to pair George Clooney and Julia Roberts together for an unambitious and generic flick.  They’re great actors with terrific chemistry.  Their arguments and banter are fine in this recent vehicle, but Oceans 11 had wittier banter.  Ticket to Paradise’s script (written by Daniel Pipski and director Ol Parker) is adequate, but there’s not one memorable moment or quotable line of dialogue.  If anything, the post-movie bloopers deliver the biggest laughs and we can see that the actors had an absolute blast making this movie.  I just wish I had more of a blast watching this. 

David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) are divorced parents who can’t stand each other.  They’re both very well off, living in a big city, with a daughter who has just graduated from law school with a big job lined up.  Their daughter Lily (Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever) goes for a vacation to Bali, where she falls in love with seaweed farmer Gede (Maxime Bouttier).  She also becomes enamoured with the Bali lifestyle.  A month later, Lily is engaged to Gede, plans to live in Bali, and invites her parents to the wedding.  It turns out Lily is a free spirit that never wanted to be a lawyer, but folded to her parents’ pressure.  As much as David and Georgia can’t stand each other, they agree that Lily’s marriage is an awful idea and they collaborate to sabotage it.   

Audiences are familiar with this blueprint, but that doesn’t stop the screenwriters from doing anything different with the formula.  We anticipate these rich city slickers will be humbled by the life of this exotic getaway, discover their true selves and embrace their daughter’s personality, and maybe rediscover love in each other.  Can we for once get a rom-com about someone in a small town or a village who goes to a big city and falls in love there? 

In the YouTube comments beneath movie trailers, it has become a cliché for users to respond with, “I just saw the entire movie”, but that’s kind of the case with Ticket to Paradise.  The movie I got is exactly what the trailer promised with zero surprises, with most of the “funny” parts given away.  Having George Clooney and Julia Roberts drunkenly busting-a-move to House of Pain while their embarrassed daughter prays for an asteroid to strike is a good example of the film’s comedy.  It’s the kind of humour that I would put into a wedding video, but not something I’d be proud to put into a feature film. 

Now, I don’t want to be completely negative towards Ticket to Paradise.  Part of the plot is also that Georgia has a boyfriend who’s a pilot named Paul (Lucas Bravo).  He is a bit of a moron, but he’s likeable and Bravo is a lot of fun in this role.  We know how this story will go to, but at least he’s not a douchebag which is a rom-com trope that I’m glad this movie avoided.  He actually has the funniest line of the entire movie (during the “hospital scene”), which made me laugh-out-loud. 

Ticket to Paradise, thankfully, does improve in the second half when it gets into sentimental territory and strays away from sight gags.  A standout scene is a heart-to-heart between mother and daughter, with Roberts delivering a great speech about how parents want everything for their kids, expect for them to be their true selves.  Clooney is the king of delivering dramatic monologues, and he absolutely nails a key moment, even when the lines coming out of his mouth are average at best. Despite the film’s predictability, the ending was well-executed and makes the audience feel genuine emotions.

Should you watch this movie?  If it’s on TV or if you’re on a plane to an exotic island, sure.  However, it’s also mediocre and doesn’t warrant a trip to the theatre.  It’s passable entertainment that will most likely fade from your memory a week after you’ve seen it.

**1/2 (out of 5)


Read more of Jeff Ching’s thoughts on film at The Ching of Comedy’s blog.

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