Ticket to Paradise is a perfect example of why you need to keep what kind of movie you’re seeing in mind when you’re formulating your expectations. It’s a romantic comedy starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts as ex-spouses who try to stop their daughter, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), from making the same mistakes they did when they got married. They go to Bali to try to stop Lily from marrying Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a man she’s barely known for a month.
That’s it. That’s all you need to know. You could probably predict each and every beat that comes throughout this film. But the thing is… that’s fine! Ticket to Paradise isn’t trying to surprise you. It’s not trying to challenge the form of romantic comedies. It just stars two of the most bankable actors of the last 35 years in a movie where they get to bounce one-liners off each other, while delivering heartfelt monologues about life, love, marriage, or whatever.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t think critically about it. It’s never clear exactly how long Lily has been at college (she goes to Bali to celebrate graduation, but she’s now becoming a lawyer in Chicago?), there’s a younger boyfriend to Roberts’ character, Paul (Lucas Bravo), who is completely extraneous to the plot, and everything finishes up as nice and tidy as you might expect from this kind of movie. But sometimes a film, especially a rom-com, can be carried by the strength of star power, and Ticket to Paradise has it in spades.
It would hardly be a stretch to say this is Clooney’s best performance since The Descendants (though, Hail, Caesar! is quite good), and Roberts’ best since her Oscar-nominated August: Osage County. I guess that’s just what happens when you put Danny and Tess Ocean and their iconic will-they-won’t-they banter back together, and this time make them the parents of the girl from Booksmart (Billie Lourd plays another chaotic friend, too).
Ticket to Paradise isn’t going to blow you away by any stretch of the imagination. But when I can count on one hand the number of great romantic comedies from the last five or 10 years, it’ll scratch a deep-seated itch thanks to the kind of performance in the kind of movie we barely get anymore. They bicker on an airplane. They have a competition about who can make a bigger pile of seaweed. They dance to “old school” music (“Jump Around”) while they play beer pong. Basically, it’s the fun type of shenanigans you can expect from a movie set on a piece of paradise. There are even bloopers in the end credits! Let’s do that more.
You should know by now whether Ticket to Paradise would be your kind of thing. It doesn’t just have lighthearted laughs and jabs, but it has a mature look at what it means to be a family and a parent, and I appreciate that it at least takes that step. No, it’s not going to crack my top 10 of the year. But there’s a good chance it’ll be a solid rewatch in the future.