Sometimes you just want to nuzzle in the bosom of a Hollywood movie. You know the type, too. Just something with attractive people, likely with more money than you, getting into pleasant hijinks in some kind of breathtaking locale. When you’re in the mood for that, few things are as satisfying. It just scratches an itch. Now, at the same time, if you’re not in the mood for a film like that, you’re going to hate it. So, a flick like Ticket to Paradise is essentially hoping you’re in the mood. A disposable bit of light entertainment, it’s eager to please, but insisting that you check any semblance of cynicism at the door.
Ticket to Paradise is as thin as a wafer, but goes down just as easily. Folks who have been looking for a romantic comedy aimed at a slightly older crowd, as well as a re-teaming of George Clooney and Julia Roberts will be in luck. This film is seeking to give you just that, and nothing more. It makes for largely limited ambition, but by and large, it achieves what it sets out to do.
David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) can’t stand each other. Married for five years but divorced for almost two decades, the only thing they share, besides a hatred for the other, is a love for their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). Brought together for her law school graduation, it’s barely a minute before they’re bickering. Lily, exhausted by their immaturity, is getting set to go on a vacation with her best friend/roommate Wren (Billie Lourd) to Bali. It’s meant to be some downtime before starting work at a law firm, but something happens on that island. Lily falls in love, contacting her folks after two months to let them know she’s engaged and about to be married. That gets them to agree on one more thing…that they have to stop this wedding.
Desperate to prevent her from making their same mistake, David and Georgia touch down in Bali on the same team for once.. No sooner do they meet Lily’s fiancé Gede (Maxime Bouttier), however, cracks begin to form. For one, Gede is a kind and loving man, truly in love with their daughter. As they navigate the island, new family, and their various schemes, not only do they doubt their mission, they begin to remember why they once actually loved each other.
Watching George Clooney and Julia Roberts bounce off of each other is largely a pleasure. These are incredibly undemanding roles, but they know how to play them well. The pair retain some excellent chemistry. They also spar with the best of them. Despite being in their shadow, Kaitlyn Dever not only hits her comedic beats with aplomb, she provides the beating heart of the movie. She gets a reunion of her own, with Billie Lourd (they previously appeared in Booksmart together) and her showcasing more good chemistry. Supporting players, aside from the aforementioned Maxime Bouttier, include Lucas Bravo, but you’re here for the Clooney/Roberts pairing.
Co-writer/director Ol Parker is just out to keep the masses pleased. To that end, the script he wrote with Daniel Pipski seems almost indifferent to the plot. He’s made a family hangout movie, in a way. Parker is making the calculation that audiences just want Clooney and Roberts to spar as much as possible. He’s probably not wrong. It just also limits the ambition that Ticker to Paradise is willing to have. It does the bare minimum to pass its exam, while Parker and Pipski are likely not unaware of.
Ticket to Paradise is comfort food for a certain type of moviegoer. An old-school studio romcom that just wants you to gaze at A-list actors and actresses. The film is a delivery mechanism for movie stars, with two of the most charming here in Clooney and Roberts. Cynics need not apply, but if you go in with open arms, it’s ready to embrace you back.