Ticket to Paradise relies solely on the drawing power of George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Kaitlyn Dever with a script that underdelivers and performances that lack.
Ticket to Paradise, directed by Ol Parker is his latest feature after Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and in this Bali-set romantic comedy, Parker hasn’t deviated far from the formula of the ABBA musical.
Both rely on a young free-spirited recent graduate escaping to the allure of sun, sea, and seriously ripped men, inviting their parents to join them to celebrate a wedding.
Where Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again uses upbeat ABBA tracks to muddle through the clunky story, Ticket to Paradise must rely on George Clooney and Julia Roberts to pick up the weight of the film with their star power after proving their chemistry years ago Ocean’s Eleven directed by Steven Soderbergh.
The two acclaimed stars in the instance of Ticket to Paradise are former lovers, David and Georgia Cotton, who use each line of dialogue to venomously attack the other, whilst forming a plan to foil the wedding of their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) who after holidaying in Bali falls in love with a local seaweed farmer Gede (Maxime Bouttier).
However, with neither Clooney nor Roberts having experience working with recent comedies, the humour feels dated as if stuck in the late 90s alongside There’s Something About Mary or Deuce Bigelow.
To exemplify this, there is a scene where Julia Roberts’ younger new boyfriend Paul (Lucas Bravo) gets bit by a snake despite zero mention up to that point of the dangers of being bitten on the Indonesian island. Roberts in an attempt to save her pilot toyboy then sucks the venom out of his leg making her mouth numb and causing her to speak with a lisp for all of thirty seconds until the scene jump cuts to Paul recovering in a hospital.
The rest of the humour relies on the underhanded misunderstanding of the Westernised couple trying to navigate the language barrier of Balinese, which given the clear cultural differences feels borderline racist as if pointing and laughing.
Most disappointingly, the film doesn’t quite understand its roots. Clooney and Roberts lead as if delivering a romantic drama, whilst the inclusion of Kaitlyn Dever and Billie Lourd feel plucked directly from Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart for a surrealist comedy.
I have no doubt that Ticket to Paradise will be successful for the elder demographics, drawing on the economic viability solely on Clooney and Roberts, along with director Ol Parker’s previous successes in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and The Great Exotic Marigold Hotel but ultimately, I do not see Ticket to Paradise as one that audiences will remember or talk about in the same vein as Clooney or Roberts’ previous works like The Descendants; Pretty Woman or the aforementioned Ocean’s Eleven.
The best part of the film was during the credits and seeing the true magic of Clooney and Roberts’ onscreen chemistry come to life through the blooper reel, it is just a shame that I had to sit through just under two hours of Ticket to Paradise in order to see the two rekindle their passion for the other’s company.
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