Ticket To Paradise review | The return of the romcom

Julia Roberts and George Clooney light up the screen in Ol Parker’s old-fashioned, to a fault, rom-com Ticket to Paradise.

ticket to paradise

With the rise of mega-franchises like Fast & Furious and Disney dominating screens both big and small around the world, romantic comedies seem like a dying genre. Once a thriving sub-genre, there haven’t been a lot of great romantic comedies lately, although a few exceptions exist, namely Crazy Rich Asians and 2021’s charming The Broken Hearts Gallery

Not to worry though, Julia Roberts and George Clooney are reuniting once again to revitalise the genre. Ticket to Paradise is unashamed of its own old-fashioned nature and reliably provides romance, thrills and giggles in appropriate intervals. 

Roberts and Clooney play Georgia and David, the bitterly divorced parents of Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) who is graduating law school. Lily and her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) head to Bali for a much-needed holiday before Lily becomes a hot-shot lawyer. Once there, Lily falls in love with a local seaweed farmer Gede (Maxime Bouttier).

ticket to paradise kaitlyn dever

Credit: Universal Pictures

Georgia and David fly to Bali when they receive the invitation to Gede and Lily’s wedding and agree to put their differences aside to try and discreetly stop the wedding from happening. Great parenting there, really healthy stuff. 

In all honesty, we’re all on Georgia and David’s side, right? To have your daughter announce they’re moving to another country and marrying someone they met on holiday is pretty worrisome and any parent would encourage their child to reconsider, date for a while. Whatever happened to dating, getting to know someone before popping the question?

Of course, Lily and Gede’s love is true and harmonious, but it also relies on this nostalgic idea of love. That true love sweeps us off our feet and it happens suddenly, when we least expect it and we should, always, just go with it. Trust that gut feeling and let love lead you. 

I’m cynical enough to call bullshit on such sentiments, but Ticket to Paradise did a good enough job at melting my old, cold heart. Maybe it’s Clooney’s charm, Roberts’ warmth and Devers’ innocence, but the film did sell me on its sentimental view of love, at least for its moderate runtime of 104 minutes. 

ticket to paradise george clooney julia roberts

Even if you hate rom-coms, it’s hard to deny the dynamo chemistry between Clooney and Roberts. There’s just no one like them within the new generation of movie stars. Sure, Harry Styles is cool, but can he light up the screen like Clooney? Can Zendaya make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? I think not.

Not everything works. The narrative at times feels overly contrived and the addition of Georgia’s new boyfriend Paul as the comic relief doesn’t amuse nearly as much as intended. Bouttier, playing Gede, looks the part but his character is such a blank slate, it’s hard to understand why Lily would abandon her old, secure life for someone without an ounce of personality? 

Ultimately, it’s the film’s heart that keeps it going. Parker, seemingly, is so convinced of the idea of soulmates and true love that it’s hard not to be on board with that. The film just oozes romance and optimism, which feels rare in the current political and social climate. 

Ticket To Paradise mostly provides escapist utopia and most of the enjoyment comes from seeing Roberts and Clooney reunite again. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I do hope Ticket to Paradise would have gone just an inch further and explored its characters better. 

Ticket to Paradise is in UK cinemas September 20. 

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