Yes, "Ticket to Paradise" is a "throwback," an old-school rom-com where things go exactly as you'd expect, where the main characters simply bounce from one impossible, ludicrous situation to another, where the cheese and corn are piled on high, and where love always prevails.
But did I like it? Oh, you bet I did.
There is a major difference between a "great actor" and a "movie star." On occasion, we're granted the gift of both inhabiting the same body. Is George Clooney, for example, a "great actor"? That's a stretch...but he's definitely a giant movie star. Julia Roberts on the other hand is definitely both...we've seen her in many shapes and forms over her career, and she can easily leave a legacy of being both a great actor, and about as big a movie star that you'll ever come across.
Julia Roberts is now 54 and George Clooney is 61, and their age is about the only thing unique about this by-the-numbers romantic-comedy. For comparison's sake, Tom Hanks was 37 and Meg Ryan was 32 when they combined for "Sleepless in Seattle." But their chemistry and their on-screen charisma is simply off-the-charts. This combined star-power is enough to float "Ticket to Paradise" and make it a harmless and enjoyable night out.
David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) have long since been divorced, having only spent five years together as a married couple. That marriage though, spawned their daughter Lily (the wonderful Kaitlyn Dever) who just graduated college along with her bestie, Wren (Billie Lourd), and who plans to become a doctor. But while on a quick get-away to Bali, Lily encounters island native, Gede (Maxime Bouttier), and the two fall quickly in love. Not even two months after meeting, Lily and Gede announce they are getting married and plan to live their lives on Bali. When her parents are invited, they finally have something to agree on: They must prevent their daughter from getting married and making the same mistakes they did, at all costs.
Only in a rom-com of this nature would David and Georgia be sat next to each other on the plane ride, but that's exactly what happens. And only in a rom-com would Georgia's current boyfriend, the young and dashing Paul (Lucas Bravo) be a flight attendant and assigned to their plane. That also happens.
But after a rocky beginning comprised of Clooney and Roberts just flinging insults and one-liners back-and-forth at each other, the movie begins to infect you once everyone is on-site in Bali (OK, the film was shot in Australia, but who cares?). David and Georgia are given adjacent rooms. They plot to steal the wedding rings so that they can delay the marriage. There is a scene at a bar where they all get belligerent and Clooney and Roberts dance to some old-school hip-hop. Paul the flight attendant shows up unannounced. They all get stuck on a deserted island. Roberts has to suck the poison out of Paul's foot.
You know, all the same stuff that you'd come to expect!
"Ticket to Paradise" is not a good movie by any measure, EXCEPT that it stars Clooney and Roberts, two of the biggest stars of our time, having more fun than we've seen them have on-screen in years. Particularly Clooney, who looks like he is on a real vacation and who looks so grateful to be acting. Perhaps after the past several years of real life, on the heels of a devastating pandemic, a movie like "Ticket to Paradise" is not all that bad. It might, in fact, be the movie we need.
It is the "feel-good movie of the year," a moniker that is as clichéd as much of the film. But it's appropriate. This movie made me feel good. And sometimes, that's more than enough.
Genre: Romance, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes.
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Sean Lynch, Billie Lourd, Kaitlyn Dever, Arielle Carver-O'Neill.
Co-Written & Directed by Ol Parker ("Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," "Now Is Good," "Imagine Me & You").
"Ticket to Paradise" is in theaters on Friday, October 21st, 2022.
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