‘Ticket to Paradise’ Review: A Safe But Slightly Bumpy Rom-Com Flight

Michael Lee reviews Ticket to Paradise, which works well enough as a familiar rom-com thanks to the winning cast.
User Rating: 7.5

The rom-com has been a part of the cinematic landscape for many generations. It tends to grow, evolve, and change with those generations. So there isn’t exactly a definitive interpretation of a rom-com, but there is a formula that the genre tends to adhere to make itself undeniably funny and romantic. And maybe that’s what makes something like Ticket to Paradise safe and predictable. Still, thankfully George Clooney and Julia Roberts‘ chemistry is electric enough to keep the entire trip steady for the whole trip.

Ticket to Paradise follows David (Clooney) and Georgia Cotton (Roberts), two bitter divorcees who can’t stand the sight of each other but share a daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). And throughout the opening scene, we see how David and Georgia’s resentful and seething comments towards each other are full of differences with hints of snark, wit, and poison. They will do anything to ensure the other person in the conversation knows that their former significant other was the greatest mistake of their lives. The exposition is merely a set of how they truly feel about each other or where these two will end up despite the differences in how they recall their married life.

But when Lily and her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) go on a trip to Bali – shot in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic – as a post-graduation present, Lily ends up getting engaged to the handsome and charming Gede (Maxime Bouttier). Upon getting an email invitation to their wedding, David and Georgia set aside their differences and put a stop to their daughter from repeating the same mistake they made 25 years ago. 

And so, the bickering parents who travel to a country far from home to stop their daughter from making the same mistakes they did is a familiar conceit. It can work but has proven to be stretched far too thin, making it formulaic and predictable. That seething antipathy may be there, but their commonality in protecting their daughter gives them a perspective on what they have lost. It’s all so transparent as the waters of Bali, I mean Australia.

Director Ol Parker, who also wrote the script with Daniel Pipski, isn’t trying to reinvent the genre as much as he is just cutting and pasting from classic rom-coms. The problem with that is it makes Ticket to Paradise vapid and hollow. In addition, the story lacks heart because there are very few stakes, leaving no room for us to connect with any of the characters emotionally or at least sympathize with their plight. But that is a common theme around these rom-coms, especially one that devotes its time to trying to rekindle a relationship between two former lovers.

As such, the Ticket to Paradise relies more on the cast’s performances than anything else, with David and Georgia’s resentment as the foundation of much of the romance and comedy. Their banter provides comedy. Often they have the same idea, but David is unwilling to accept that Georgia came up with it. And then there’s Georgia, who is also trying to balance out her mission with her relationship with Paul (Lucas Bravo), a dashing pilot who has all of the hallmarks of the cliched “the other guy” that is wrong and unfit for her.

Still, despite some of those flaws, when those classic tropes work, they work. The sharp barbs that David and Georgia exchange are funny, and luckily it’s a gag that doesn’t wear itself thin as the story progresses. As the story starts to take shape, David and Georgia’s opinions of each other change. For the past 25 years, they’ve spent their lives resenting and blaming the other for their woes and often compete for Lily’s affection and attention or prove who can farm the most seaweed. And yet, they know each other so well, like which one of them can do the hard job or agree that getting married calls for “the right time, the right place, and the right circumstance.” The chemistry is so electric that it’s hard to believe that the two only share the same screen only a handful of times.

It also helps to have a solid supporting cast in Dever, Lourd, and Bouttier.

And while it is great to see Balinese culture represented in the film, and you’d better believe I was excited to hear my family’s mother language in a mainstream movie starring Clooney and Roberts, one can’t get past how “Ticket to Paradise” slightly perpetuates the colonial gaze. It’s one of those controversies that reduces the people and places as a set piece so that Westernized characters can use to grow and develop. Such is a luxury that few can afford and makes light of the hard labor locals have to do to live.

All that said, had Ticket to Paradise been set anywhere else, it would have probably would have worked just as well. So it’s good that the rom-com doesn’t lean too heavily into the fish-out-of-water trope, even though it’s fun to see David know Gede’s family is saying something harmless and fun. Some of the humor is at the lead’s expense, and Gede’s family takes advantage of David and Georgia’s naivety – Gede’s father jokes that a family becomes one when fathers prick themselves with a knife. There’s even a joke about one family member saying Georgia is beautiful but comparing it to a horse. But, again, it all feels familiar and may seem harmless to some. Luckily, it’s the kind of gag that doesn’t run too long.

Ticket to Paradise may not be the most original rom-com, but it’s one that only thrives because of Clooney and Robert’s chemistry. A pure escapist kind of film is you are looking to find a place to get away from it all – even though it looks so artificial or even digitized. And to see Clooney and Roberts share the screen is such a joy, even if the script is slightly lazy and falls into the colonial gaze. Still, somewhere beyond all of that is a safe rom-com that works because of its two leads and reliability on genre tropes. So, if you’re looking for something like that, then you might want to get those Tickets to Paradise

Ticket to Paradise opens in theaters on October 21, 2022.

Written by
Michael Lee has covered the film industry for over the past decade for sites like Geeks of Doom and That’s It LA. He looks forward to all kinds of films of all sizes whether it's the commercial blockbusters or small independent fare. But what he is most interested in is pushing for more diversity and representation, whether it is on screen, behind the camera, or at the top of a studio office.

Your Vote

0 0

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.