“Ticket to Paradise” made me a bit nostalgic during my viewing due to its two charismatic lead performers. Although more than 20 years have passed since they rose as major Hollywood star performers, George Clooney and Julia Roberts still shine with each own charm and presence as before, and my mind occasionally went back to when they appeared together in Steve Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) and two following sequels. It is a shame that “Ticket to Paradise” ends up being merely passable and predictable compared to that jolly time, but it is occasionally buoyed by their fairly commendable efforts nonetheless, so it was not a total waste of time for me at least.
Clooney and Roberts play David and Georgia Cotton, a longtime divorced couple who still cannot stand each other despite many years of separation between them. Being with each other is certainly the last thing they want to do, but they agree to put aside their old mutual resentment for a while because of their dear daughter Lily (Katilyn Dever), who is going to work at a prominent law firm in Chicago after her upcoming law school graduation. Knowing too well that how much her parents still resent each other, Lily tries her best for making the situation as amiable as possible, and her parents also do try, but, not so surprisingly, they cannot help but clash with each other right from when they happen to sit right next to each other during the graduation ceremony.
Once Lily leaves for Bali, Indonesia for a little respite along with her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) before eventually beginning her career at a prominent Chicago law firm, it looks like David and Georgia will not have to meet again at least for some time, but, alas, something quite unexpected happens. Not long after arriving in Bali, Lily meets a handsome local lad named Gede (Maxime Bouttier), and they quickly fall in love with each other during next several weeks. When they subsequently announce their upcoming wedding to David and Georgia, both David and Georgia are certainly caught off guard, and they become all the more concerned because their daughter is going to give up her promising future just for love.
As they subsequently go together to Bali, David and Georgia agree that they must try to stop the wedding by any means necessary, so they embark together on working together against their daughter’s marriage, though that turns out to be not easy at all. While receiving the warm hospitality of their future in-laws, they also see how happy their daughter really is, and their future son-in-law turns out to be a lot more than his good-looking appearance. After all, he has been running a fairly successful seaweed farm for years, and, as far as I could observe, his family seems very affluent considering how much they prepare for the upcoming wedding.
Now you have already discerned where the story is going, and The screenplay by director Ol Parker, who previously directed “Momma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018), and his co-writer Daniel Pipski does not surprise us much on the whole, but Clooney and Roberts have some juicy fun together from time to time. There is an amusing scene where their characters deliberately sabotage the official engagement ceremony for Lily and Gede, and I also enjoyed the sequence where David and Georgia willingly throw themselves into sheer silliness as having an evening drinking match with Lily and Gede.
Of course, the mood becomes more serious when David and Georgia come to wonder what is really the best for their daughter’s happiness, and that is where the movie becomes more predictable than before. Yes, there comes an inevitable moment when Lily comes to learn of what her parents have been doing behind their back. Yes, there comes a reflective moment when David and Georgia begin to look upon what has been lying beneath their longtime mutual resentment. Yes, there comes an expected moment of big speech in the middle of the wedding ceremony when David and Georgia must be really supportive of their daughter as well as their future son-in-law.
Fortunately, Clooney and Roberts handle these and several other very predictable moments well. Although his career has been going down mainly due to the critical/commercial failures of his recent directorial works, Clooney is still capable of exuding his usual charming screen persona, and I wish the movie utilized more of his wily comic sides. On the opposite, Roberts skillfully alternates between sunny likability and barbed wit, and she surely demonstrates here that she can still be funny as she was in many romantic comedy films including “Pretty Woman” (1990).
In case of several other cast members in the film, they are mostly stuck in their respective thankless supporting roles. While Kaitlyn Denver and Maxime Bouttier are often limited by their blandly wholesome roles, Billie Lourd and Lucas Bravo do not have much to do except providing occasional comic relief, but Lourd is allowed to throw a few funny one-liners for our amusement at least.
Overall, “Ticket to Paradise” will not impress you much especially if you are a seasoned moviegoer like me, but it is nice to see Clooney and Roberts bringing some breeziness to those numerous conventional moments in the film. They deserve better in my inconsequential opinion, but they try their best with their materials anyway, and that is sort of admirable.