‘Ticket to Paradise’ is a Paint by Numbers Rom-Com

I’ll begin things with a personal note, followed by a more objective and professional review. From the personal side: Writer-director Ol Parker (Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, 2018) has delivered the textbook example of the type of movie that, while I understand why they get made, I find the hollowness and predictability to be anything but entertaining. On a more objective note, George Clooney and Julia Roberts are huge movie stars and will almost certainly lead the way to box office success.

In Ticket to Paradise, Oscar-winner Clooney plays David, a highly successful Chicago-based architect. Oscar-winner Roberts plays Georgia, a highly successful Los Angeles-based art dealer. David and Georgia have been divorced for twenty years, and have bickered and fought a war of words and ideology ever since. They are forced to reunite and put on a happy face for the law school graduation of their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever from “Justified” and Booksmart, 2019). The (un)wisecracks and cringe-inducing one-liners start immediately and continue as David and Georgia drop off Lily and her BFF Wren (Billie Lourd, also Booksmart) for their post-graduation vacation to Bali (although it’s filmed in Australia).

A googly-eyed, love-at-first-sight meet-cute finds Lily falling hard and fast for local dreamboat and seaweed farmer Gede (introducing Maxime Bouttier). In the blink of an eye, David and Georgia are on a plane to Bali. Only this time they share the same mission…sabotage the wedding to prevent their daughter from making a huge mistake. Their “Trojan Horse” strategy and insistence on being in ‘lockstep’ are meant to be humorous, but mostly we wonder why these two can’t have an adult conversation with their adult daughter. Adding complications (though not really) to the mix is Georgia’s much younger boyfriend Paul (Armie Hammer lookalike Lucas Bravo, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, 2022). He’s a handsome French pilot who is so goofy, we can’t possibly take him seriously or think he could give Georgia pause on where the relationships in this movie are obviously headed.

This is the fifth film collaboration between mega-stars Clooney and Roberts, and after all these years, we know exactly what to expect from each of them. Clooney exaggerates his facial contortions and plays his part right down the line, while Roberts gets in a cackle or two while often wearing the most unflattering onesies you’ll ever see. If ‘paint by numbers’ is considered art, then romantic comedy by rote would be as well. We know where this is headed within the first five minutes and only those who enjoy knowing every bump in the road ahead of the trip will find it satisfying. It’s a shame that the talented Dever, Lourd, and Bouttier couldn’t have had more to do here, but it seems superstars still rule the roost.