George Clooney and Julia Roberts co-star for the fifth time as bickering divorcées trying to sabotage their daughter’s hasty wedding. Ticket to Paradise has crowd-pleasing heart and humor but no surprises whatsoever. It’s got beautiful people, a gorgeous setting, and a formulaic script that could have been written by a romantic comedy robot. I’ll liken the film to vanilla pudding. It looks and tastes decent but loses flavor after a few bites. Ticket to Paradise rolls off the tongue too easily. The utter lack of realistic tension swiftly lost my interest.
David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) Cotton reunite in Chicago for their daughter’s law school graduation. Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) is the only thing the argumentative exes can agree on. They briefly try to get along and celebrate her promising future. Lily heads to Bali with her promiscuous roommate, Wren (Billie Lourd), to party before starting adult life. A chance stranding at sea leads to rescue from the handsome Dede (Maxime Bouttier).
Thirty-seven days later, David and Georgia receive a troubling update. Lily has decided to marry Dede, a seaweed farmer, in a traditional Agama Hindu Dharma wedding. Her parents race to Bali to thwart the reckless act. They agree to bury their grievances and work together. David and Georgia feign matrimonial support while engaging in subversion. Their tactics aren’t lost on a perceptive Dede, who tries to introduce them to his culture. Teamwork rekindles a flame that was never extinguished. Thus forcing the old lovers into further uncomfortable situations when Georgia’s infatuated boyfriend shows up.
Ticket to Paradise Does Have a Feel-Good Factor
Ticket to Paradise will have certain audiences swooning. You can’t discount the feel-good factor. Light material coupled with superstar chemistry flows predictably to the happy, saccharine ending. Clooney and Roberts have always been likable together. The film uses that as fuel for the aw-shucks reconciliation. Their incessant sniping was just a cover for shielded affection. That’s obvious from the opening minute. Everyone embraces the fall in each other’s arms moment. Spice it up a bit with a sprinkling of the unexpected. The lack of angst earns the pudding comparison.
Director/co-writer Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) gets humor points from a few sources. Clooney and Roberts’ adaptation struggles to Indonesian ceremonies elicits several chuckles. Lourd has a few scene-stealing moments as Wren hunts for her own hunky stud. She makes an impression in the first act before a drastic reduction in screen time. Granted, Wren’s a minor supporting role but provides a welcome distraction to the stale Lily. The film would have benefited from more of her character.
Ticket to Paradise does capitalize on its fall release. Who doesn’t dream of exotic Bali in chilly weather? I’d rather wear a loud Hawaiian shirt and guzzle piña coladas. Idyllic scenery of crystal clear beaches and verdant jungles will certainly boost tourism; even if the film was primarily shot in Australia.
Ticket to Paradise falters as a known commodity. Its stress-free approach left me bored. A scene where David and Wren drink together was a lost opportunity for complications. Break out the vanilla pudding for date night.
Ticket to Paradise is a production of Working Title Films, Smokehouse Pictures, and Red Om Films. It will have a theatrical release on October 21st from Universal Pictures.