Ticket to Paradise (2022) Review

Mainstream rom-com is enjoying a revival this year. Well, more like a mini-revival as evidently seen in Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson-starred Marry Me earlier this year. That movie was frankly bland and flimsy even with the starry duo.

Then, fast forward to a few months later, we have Ticket to Paradise, which reunites Julia Roberts and George Clooney for the fifth time after appearing onscreen together in Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Money Monster (2016). Both stars, of course, are no strangers to rom-coms, particularly Julia Roberts during the ’90s and the early 2000s with hits like Pretty Woman (1990), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), Notting Hill (1999) and to a certain extent, America’s Sweethearts (2001). As for Clooney, the last time he starred in a rom-com was One Fine Day with Michelle Pfeiffer back in 1996.

Kaitlyn Dever and Maxime Bouttier in "Ticket to Paradise" (2022)

In Ticket to Paradise, which marks the first time seeing Roberts and Clooney together in a rom-com genre, they respectively play Georgia and David. They used to be a married couple but they end up hating each other and divorced 25 years ago. Of course, fate always works in mysterious ways (at least in the world of Hollywood rom-com) when they reunite for two reasons. They first attend their daughter’s (Kaitlyn Dever’s Lily) graduation day, even though they aren’t pleased sitting together in the same row.

The second reason, which happens over a month later, sees the divorced couple reluctantly agrees to team up and sabotage their daughter’s wedding in Bali. Apparently, Lily, who enjoys a post-graduation holiday with her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) has fallen deeply in love with a local seaweed farmer named Gede (Maxime Bouttier). They decided to get married soon but her parents figure their daughter throwing her life away for settling down with someone like Gebe, especially after she has just graduated from law school.

Co-writer and director Ol Parker, best known for 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, isn’t interested to reinvent or subvert the otherwise done-t0-death rom-com genre. Instead, Ticket to Paradise is more like a throwback to the good old ’90s-style of rom-coms where stars like Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Richard Gere and Tom Hanks used to dominate the genre. In other words, the plot is predictable to the core as Ol Parker and Daniel Pipski’s screenplay leaves no rom-com clichés unturned, complete with obligatory embarrassing/cringey moments of watching the main character(s) dancing on the floor. And in the case of Ticket to Paradise, we see Roberts and Clooney getting all drunk while showing off their boomer dance with old-school hits like Run-DMC & Jason Nevins’ “It’s Like That” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around” playing in the background.

A scene from "Ticket to Paradise" (2022)

Ticket to Paradise may have been a hit-or-miss affair, given the been-there-and-done-that predictable outcome of its storyline while its 104-minute length does tend to feel like it overstays its welcome. But for those who miss the era when major studios used to churn out star-studded rom-coms, Ticket to Paradise thankfully benefits from Julia Roberts and George Clooney’s charming performances as the bickering divorced couple. Their onscreen chemistry is the reason that makes this otherwise typical rom-com watchable. It also helps when the movie is blessed with decent supporting turns from Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd as well as Indonesian actor Maxime Bouttier making his Hollywood debut and Lucas Bravo as Georgia’s younger pilot-boyfriend, Paul.

Interestingly enough, the movie may have taken place in Bali but the truth is, it was actually shot in Queensland, Australia. Kudos go to the production designer Owen Paterson for painstakingly recreating the exotic landscape of Bali while the movie also showcases the accurate representation of the traditional Balinese wedding rituals from the decorations to the foods and attires. Cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland, in the meantime, does a good job capturing the idyllic beauty of the island. Except for some odd-looking shots that feel as if the actors are not sharing the same background.

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