"Ticket to Paradise" Review
Over the past decade, writer/director Ol Parker has crafted his own genre of “vacation cinema,” where he takes A-list stars (generally white and older) and whisks them away to exotic places that teach them about what truly matters in life. The two The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again are some recent examples of this, all of which made a killing at the pre-pandemic box office. And with nearly $70 million to its name after launching overseas this past month before it finally reaches stateside, Ticket to Paradise looks likely to join that money-making club.
The beautiful A-listers at the center of this film are George Clooney and Julia Roberts, marking their fifth collaboration together and first since 2016’s Money Monster (anyone remember that?). The stars play divorcées David and Georgia, who are unable to stand each other for more than a few minutes each time they briefly meet. Fortunately for them, those moments of contact only occur when it comes to their daughter, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), who is just graduating from law school.
After an awkward ceremony where the two feuding parents attempt to one-up each other with their displays of affection, Lily is off to Bali for the summer with her fun-loving roommate Wren (Billie Lourd in a Booksmart reunion with Dever, although she’s given a fraction of the material). Within only a few weeks, Lily is swiftly engaged to a handsome local by the name of Gede. David and Georgia disapprove as they think she is making the same mistake they did by marrying too young. They embark on the wedding location, deciding to team up to take down their mutual enemy of young love.
Of course, you already know where this story is going before you’ve even finished the trailer. In their attempts to break up their daughter’s relationship, the two lovelorn adults will rekindle that passion that brought them together all those years ago. Before those romantic sparks start to fly, much of the humor between the pair is just them bickering back and forth with bitchy one-liners, which gets quite tiring after a while.
But Clooney and Roberts make it work thanks to their undeniable chemistry. They get to be full-on movie stars here, something we all needed a reminder of as Clooney continues his fledgling directorial career and Roberts pivots towards television. There’s a hilarious scene (featured in the trailer) where the older couple team up in a game of beer pong that gets them drunk enough to lead a dance-off featuring “Jump Around.” The rest of the movie may be a bit one-note and forgettable, but a moment like that is worth the price of admission.
If you miss the days of movies playing bloopers during the credits, which they do here, Ticket to Paradise will be right up your wheelhouse. There’s no shortage of shoreline, sun, and stars in this romantic comedy. So, grab your mom and aunts for some escapist fun, because you know they deserve that from time to time.