'Ticket to Paradise' review: Clooney and Roberts can't keep wobbly romantic comedy afloat
Courtesy of Universal
What feels like an ancient relic of the early 2000s, “Ticket to Paradise” is a homegrown, original romantic comedy built and marketed on the star power of two huge movie stars. In the current age, where these low-risk programmers are often sent to streaming or other digital platforms, its refreshing studios are putting stock in the power of top billed talent again. And when you have the one-two punch of both George Clooney and Julia Roberts, it makes the initial tease a bit easier; if only “Ticket to Paradise” had enough creative intuition to overcome a lazy premise and cheap physical gags.
Roberts and Clooney are the last of a dying breed, so it’s disappointing that director Ol Parker (who delivered the spunky “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!”), can’t give them something better suited for their talents. They play Georgia and David, a bickering divorced couple who throw each other under the bus 24/7: an exhausting running gag that grows old, fast. What little civil interaction they do have revolves around their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever, “Rosaline”), a law-school graduate eager to celebrate her accomplishments in Bali with her best friend (Billie Lourd) who’s only character trait is “raging alcoholic.” Lourd is the only person who understood the assignment.
Georgia and David are then surprised to hear, 37 days after dropping her off at the airport, that Lily is engaged to a local hunk (Maxime Bouttier) and ready to forget her law-school degree and become a seaweed farmer. This forces the classic parental meltdown and sees the two forming a united front, setting aside their differences but not the silly insults, to try and thwart the wedding plans. Slapstick hijinks, gorgeous locales, an encounter with a chompy dolphin, and a rowdy game of beer pong ensue as “Ticket to Paradise” doesn’t try masking subtly. Evident by the inclusion of Georgia’s stoic pilot/boyfriend (a game Lucas Bravo) who enjoys surprises and delaying inevitable narrative outcomes.
All the sight gags are treated with no sincere level of appreciation: how does a scene where Clooney chases down a pig not garner howls of laughter? The only instance “Ticket to Paradise” understands Clooney and Roberts' charm is during the aforementioned beer pong game when House of Pain’s “Jump Around” provides a winning anthem. It’s here you can sense the two A-listers are having fun and letting loose, allowing much of their physicality to unleash in rapid succession.
Alas, the movie quickly shifts back into its boring rhythm and offers minimal surprise as Parker steers this ship into familiar waters. It’s harmless, sure, but everyone involved (especially Clooney and Roberts) deserved a sharper script that honored their strengths. At least the gag reel over the closing credits suggests the cast and crew had fun making the movie. Wish the same could be said for those watching it.
TICKET TO PARADISE is now playing in theaters.