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Ticket to Paradise movie review: Julia Roberts-George Clooney’s film is beautifully inert

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Ticket to Paradise movie review: George Clooney and Julia Roberts' chemistry crackles, their jokes land, they can't be too mean to each other and we don't want that, he still has that crinkly-eyed grin with more of the salt-and-pepper hair, and she still has that most uplifting laugh in the world

Ticket to Paradise movie review Julia Roberts- George Clooney's film 1200Ticket to Paradise movie review: The film stars Julia Roberts and George Clooney.

Stay back for the credits roll and you are treated to a take where Julia Roberts consoles a presumably star-struck stewardess who has just dropped a glass, “Don’t worry, it’s only George Clooney. We have two of those.” If only. For those of us of a certain vintage, we haven’t had enough of this supremely charismatic actor, in a rom-com role such as this. It is, in fact, the first such pairing of Clooney and Roberts, a match for him in charisma, despite the two having done other roles together that have coasted on their unmistakable star quality.

In Ticket to Paradise, it’s the only thing going for the film, which is as beautifully inert as the picture postcard shots it keeps pulling up to convince us that a Bali island “is the most beautiful place on Earth”. And it isn’t even Bali the film is shot in, but Australia.

Maybe if it was indeed Bali, director Ol Parker (also the co-screenwriter) would bother to have learnt more about Indonesia than the stuff read off tourist guide books. So, all of Bali it seems has large families, correct that to large “loving” families; people who live in “balance” with nature, including “Devi Danu (goddess of the sea)”; are able to survive on seaweed farming (apart from love and fresh air); and have enough left over to sustain artistically done-up thatched houses, with white sheets and billowing curtains. Plus, they welcome with open arms an American daughter-in-law fresh off a tourist boat, “now and forever” — because, we Orientals, we believe in that kind of marriage.

Watch Ticket to Paradise movie trailer here:

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The daughter-in-law in question is Lily (Kaitlyn Dever); her parents in question are the 20-years-now-divorced Georgia (Roberts) and David (Clooney). Lily, having just graduated with a much-coveted law degree, goes to Bali on vacation and there discovers the dreamy Gede (Maxime Bouttier). Thirty-seven days later, she tells her parents she is getting married to Gede, and settling down to a life of seaweed farming.
Which parent would not do a somersault? And which parent will not decide to fly right over to change their daughter’s mind (we are not talking parents without money here)? But which parent would do so by a) stealing their rings, b) taking them to a cursed temple, c) believe that to be enough, and d) actually there is no d.

Smart and successful as Georgia (an art dealer) and David (an architect) are, they can’t phrase the most clearly glaring reasons why Lily and Gede should give raging hormones (even those are not so raging) some rest.

We are told that Georgia has lingering regrets over not pursuing her career dreams initially, for marriage with David, and wants to ensure Lily does not do the same. David just wants more for his child. In its most well-articulated bits, the film wonders if parents can ever accept their children for who they are, without trying to improve.

However, we are not here for Lily or Gede, or his fawning exotica of a Balinese family, are we? The set-up, the sunsets, the sunrises, the sand, beach, and even an alcohol-fuelled joyous dance (which leads to a most-disappointing morning after) are all in the service of throwing Roberts and Clooney together.


In an interview to The New York Times in the run-up to the film, where Roberts and Clooney discussed their friendship and constant ribbing of each other, Roberts put her finger on what makes rom-coms work (and she has done a number of highly-loved ones): it is when they get people connected to a story whose end they already know.

From the time in Ticket to Paradise that the exes Georgia and David first meet, and every time they do so thereafter, we want to reach over and throw them together. Their chemistry crackles, their jokes land, they can’t be too mean to each other and we don’t want that, he still has that crinkly-eyed grin with more of the salt-and-pepper hair, and she still has that most uplifting laugh in the world (though what’s with the frumpy clothes the film has her wear, and the ridiculous puppy dog boyfriend she lets hang around).

Georgia’s philosophy in life, or for most part of it, is: “Why keep the good stuff for last?”. Yet, here, we keep going around in circles of the best stuff Ticket to Paradise has. And, no, it doesn’t resemble paradise, just something close to home.


Ticket to Paradise movie cast: Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Kaitlyn Dever, Maxime Bouttier, Lucas Bravo
Ticket to Paradise movie director: Ol Parker
Ticket to Paradise movie rating: 2.5 stars

First published on: 06-10-2022 at 11:47:39 am
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