A CUTE (YET MEDIOCRELY
SERVICEABLE) ROMANTIC COMEDY
With Hollywood studios investing money in big-budgeted tentpole features or in smaller scale artistic films (ones that are worthy of Oscar / award nominations), the subgenre of romantic comedies is left somewhere in the middle of those two extreme juggernaut film genres. Naturally, romantic comedies movies, which are both a subgenre to both the romance and comedy movie genres, have been around for quite some time; featuring a motion picture with light-hearted, humorous, and dramatic stories that are usually centered around romantic nuances (i.e., such as “true love” and are able to tackle problematic obstacles (be it family, friends, or some unseen challenge). Additionally, like many films from other genres, romantic comedies can range from a wild array of styles; pulling from other movie genres in order to try to appeal to a “wider” audience. Some classic romantic comedy film endeavors include 1940’s The Philadelphia Story, 1953’s Roman Holiday, 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1987’s The Princess Bride, 1989’s When Harry Met Sally, 2007’s Waitress, 2017’s Big Sick, 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians, and 2022’s Marry Me just to name a few. Now, Universal Pictures and director Ol Parker release the latest romantic comedy endeavor from Hollywood with the release of Ticket to Paradise. Does this newest flick find merit within its special blend of heart and comedy or is it just a shallow run-of-the-mill rom com endeavor from Hollywood?
Lily Cotton (Kaitlyn Dever) is a law student who just recently graduated, embarking on the rest of her life at one of the premiere law firms in the city. To celebrate her final days of freedom, Lilly, who is joined by college friend, Wren (Billie Lourd), travel to Bali to have a fun adventure in paradise, ending up abandoned in the ocean after their boat leaves them. Rescuing them from the open water is local native young man Gede (Maxime Bouttier), with romantic sparks flying between him and Lily, and soon enough, the two are engaged to be married. Flying in for the celebratory occasions are Lily’s parents, David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts), who’ve been divorced for years, and are still spiteful towards one another, disgusted they have to reunite together for such an event. Rekindling their antagonizing ways, David and Georgia find common ground in their disapproval of the wedding, electing to join forces and sabotage Lily’s relationship, fearing she’s making a mistake. However, their inspiration to set their daughter straight triggers something within the exes as they begin to reconnect something that was lost long ago.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I know, I know…. if this opening paragraph sounds familiar (again, for another go around) it’s because I took it from my opening paragraph for my reviews for Crazy Rich Asians, Isn’t it Romantic, and Marry Me. It’s not because I’m lazy or anything like that, but because it served its purpose of getting my point across the right way in speaking my thoughts on romantic comedies. As does this paragraph of what you are about to read. So…. (without further ado) …. I’ve stated before on my blog that some of my favorite movie genres are action, fantasy, and animated. I do like other films genres out there, but those particular ones are my personal favorite. That being said, I do like watching some of the “romantic comedy” movies. To me (for the most part), I like watching them as they are usually (as stated above) “light-hearted”, which means that I really don’t have to pull that much effort into watching the movie (i.e. not stressed out / nail-biter “edge of your seat” endeavor or a perplexing “highbrow” thinking feature that will having me scratch my head). They usually play the same two or three type of scenarios for the story’s plot (i.e. two lovers presented with a challenge and test their love throughout the feature), but these mostly work for a cinematic endeavor, with several films trying to add other nuances and aspects to try to make-up for the familiar terrain. To me, I do watch these movies usually when I really don’t want to get fully “invested” in a movie or when I’m doing something “around the house” (cleaning up or doing work) as background noise). Of course, there are plenty of romantic comedies out there, but the ones that I usually watch are like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Sweet Home Alabama, This Means War, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Princess Bride just to name a few. However, 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians was definitely one of my personal favorites of all time; acting almost like definitive version of what a romantic comedy should be (in every sense of the word). In the end, while this subgenre might be “dismissed” by some of those movie snobs out there, the romantic comedy genre is still a favorable / popular one that should not be overlooked.
Naturally, this brings me back around to talking about Ticket to Paradise, a 2022 romantic comedy feature and the latest pickings from this particular genre. To be quite honest, I really didn’t hear much about this movie when it was first announced and my first “hearing about it” was when the film’s movie trailer dropped online a few months ago. From the trailer alone, it looked like your typical “rom com” endeavor that had plenty of comedic timing and romantic bliss in the air, with several recognizable acting talents involved in this picture, with most notable “headliners” of Clooney and Roberts. Just from that alone (to see these two starring in a movie together again), I was kind of interested to see the feature. Thus, while I wasn’t super excited to see the movie, I was curious to see the film when it was scheduled to be released (theatrically) on October 21st, 2022. Plus, I can’t say no to a good rom com feature. I did wait a few weeks after its initial release to go see Ticket to Paradise, for my work schedule was quite hectic and I was trying to go through some of my other movie reviews that I was currently working before tackling this one. So, I finally have some time to share my personal opinion of this latest romantic comedy film. And what did I think of it? Well, it was just okay. Ticket to Paradise does hit all the familiar tones and tropes of a romantic comedy and makes for fun reuniting of Clooney and Robert in the endeavor, yet the feature struggles to rise to occasion for just passable rom com outing. It’s by no mean completely terrible or bad, just a very mediocre / serviceable movie to watch that stays comfortable within the confines of a “paint-by-numbers” production.
Ticket to Paradise is directed by Ol Parker, whose previous directorial works include such Imagine Me & You, Now Is Good, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Given the efforts he had made with the second outing of the Mamma Mia! film franchise, Parker does seem like a suitable choice to helm such a project like Ticket to Paradise, which hits a lot of familiar tones, fluffy sweetness, and humorous comedy that was presented in his 2018 movie. It’s in that regard I do think that Parker does pretty good and admirable job in helming this movie, with his approach to the film’s story to be sincere in what he wants to accomplish. In a nutshell, Ticket to Paradise, is, for better or worse, is basically a straightforward rom com that has all the bells and whistles one would expect to find in a endeavor such as this, including a wide variety of comic moments, a splash of romance, and just a lighthearted feeling throughout the entire film. Parker goes into the picture with that in my mind and reinforces the spirt of a romantic comedy by providing a sweet and gentle feature that really is quite harmless to watch. There is nothing really offense or racial controversy that people would get upset about, with Parker keeping the movie flowing a good pace with plenty of lightheartedness throughout. The comedy in the film is actually pretty good as I did find myself chuckling and laughing many of times throughout the movie’s story, which (again) aren’t to raunchy or R-rated adult content, yet still manages to reach a particular audience for some moments of levity.
The story, while not original, is still compelling to make for entire movie about, especially one for a romantic comedy endeavor. Yes, I do believe that Ticket to Paradise is ripe for the picking for a narrative turned into a cinematic treatment and, while it plays within the safety parameters of the subgenre (more on that below), Parker keeps the production light on its toes for an enjoyable and easy viewing experience that gives you that “feel good” feeling. Plus, it’s kind of amusing baseline plot setup, with a bickering divorce couple, who can’t stand each other, must come together to break up their daughter marriage in a tropical paradise. The plot basically writes itself and I think that is perhaps one of the benefits that Parker does with the story, even though its stereotypical and lacking development. Yet, Parker makes Ticket to Paradise have an enjoyable viewing experience. From start to finish, the feature has that “comfort food” watch feeling, which makes it easily accessible. Also, I do have to say that Parker does make the movie have a good pace. Sure, there are some elements and narrative bits that felt fragmented and / or wonky (more on that below), but the movie surely does move a pretty steady pace as Parker keeps the feature light on its toes and never lingers too long on necessary details that much. All in all, while not the absolute best nor breaking any type of new ground within the subgenre, Parker makes the most of his time while helming Ticket to Paradise, which promotes the signature styles of a romantic comedy feature, with plenty of lighthearted moments and “easy to digest” story to tell.
For it’s presentation, Ticket to Paradise looks quite beautiful, with the usage of presenting a tropical getaway oasis where majority of the feature is depicted within its background setting. It’s nothing new or originally done, but the visual aesthetics of the primary location for the movie looks quite pleasing and beautiful to behold for a tropical paradise, with various Australia locations (where the movie was filmed) doubling as the exotic locales of Bali. Plus, a lot of set-pieces and costumes attires look quite good and help depict the cultural aspects of the people of Bali as well as few other nuances of the production layout. Thus, the film’s “behind the scenes” main players, including Owen Paterson (production design), Mark Dawson, Richard Hobbs, and Rachel van Baarie (art direction), and Lizzy Gardiner (costume designs), for their efforts in making the film’s movie world believable and inviting as the feature’s narrative unfolds. Additionally, the cinematography work by Ole Bratt Birkeland is pretty decent with some sweeping moments of the lush flora and fauna of locations to add that extra flavor of natural beauty of the film’s depiction of Bali. Much like the movie, it’s nothing revolutionary, but it is commendable job on Birkeland’s to help build upon the film’s visual setting as well as some dramatic effect for the feature’s cinematic pieces. Lastly, the movie’s score, which was composed by Lorne Balfe, is pretty good and helps add to the film’s likeable traits of fluttery flourishes and soft melodies. Balfe’s has always been known for composing more “bombastic” soundtracks, so it’s kind of nice to see that he can diversify a bit more for a more lighthearted composition for a romantic comedy production.
Unfortunately, Ticket to Paradise, while it’s good intentions and cuteness is indeed a welcomed one for a pleasant rom com motion picture, this movie itself struggles to find its proper footing and can’t escape both criticism as well as the pitfalls of being fashioned in the romantic comedy narrative. What do I mean? Well, for starters, the film, much like other rom coms’ out there, can’t break the mold from which the genre was casted from, with Ticket to Paradise having a formulaic touch throughout the entire proceeding. This is perhaps one of the biggest (and hardest) things for many rom coms’ to overcome and (sadly) this particular endeavor never really clears that hurdle. From the moment the movie begins, there is an underlying current of how easily predictable the story is going to be, especially with all the familiar beats hitting in all the right place…maybe for the wrong reason. This creates a formulaic presentation that’s quite familiar with very little deviation from the proven path of romantic comedy pictures. That’s not to say that Ticket to Paradise is deplorable or even not enjoyable, but it mostly just “goes through the motion” of your rom com variety, with many scenarios, problematic challenges, and ultimate resolution from this particular genre. Again, I don’t fault the movie severely for this because this is one of the most critical points of criticisms that a romantic comedy can’t overcome. Yet, it still is there, which makes Ticket to Paradise a semi-comfort watch…. nice to see (and know what to expect), but feels very predictable and formulaic with little to no surprises along the way.
Usually romantic comedies can overcome this (partly, mind you) if the several other pieces throughout the movie has something new, interesting, creatively done. That being said, Ticket to Paradise can’t overcome that particular obstacle, with Parker and his team keeping the feature pretty much the “status quo” of romantic comedy endeavors and never really coloring outside the lines of the comfort parameter. In truth, the movie’s story, while fun, light, and amusing, has been done before and in similar narratives, with Ticket to Paradise having the standard fanfare one would expect, yet never really delves into something more and creatively different to make the film standout from other. From Parker’s direction standpoint, the movie just lacks the nuances to make something “pop” within the context of the narrative being told. Yes, the bickering banter between David and Georgia definitely works and having them rekindle their relationship makes for some great visual and physical moments that make the feature come alive, yet it never truly clicks as probably it was intended to be. Parker just lacks the full-throttle finesse that the movie desperately needs, never challenging the feature enough to make it feel creative or something slightly different. This also comes at the expense of the third act of the feature, with Parker sort of rushing through some of the big moments and makes a lot of “big scenes” during this portion feel a bit empty or underwhelming. Basically, Ticket to Paradise feels like a straightforward rom com and, while that can be a good or bad thing to some, Parker keeps everything familiar yet almost stale…and that’s never a good thing.
From a writer’s standpoint, Ticket to Paradise seems insufficient in its storytelling, with a script that’s very commonplace for the subgenre and ultimately feels quite generic to the touch. Along with Daniel Pipski, Parker pulls “double duty” on this film, with the pairing shaping the movie’s story for whimsical tale of comedy and love. While the intent is there for a classic rom com, the whole affair just simply reeks of formulaic nuances and utter predictability; finding the script for the film never challenging the established allure to what people like about rom com motion pictures. Everything happens exactly the way it’s suppose to, but nothing is done new or original. Even worse, the movie kind of feels fragmented with large portion of the narrative felt like it was missing. What do I mean? Well, several sub-plots are introduced, yet never fully closed out on a few as if the concept for these minor narrative threads weren’t fleshed out enough and left dangling by the time everything start to wrap up. This seems like a common thread in the movie as kind of feels like something of these parts were cut in the editing process. In addition to that notion, the movie definitely feels like something is kind of out of sync in a few areas, with the need for a bit more adventures and sub-scenarios for the characters to tackle or face. The script for the movie is correctly heading in the direction for these particular moments for the narrative and / or characters, yet feels incomplete or too afraid to take the extra step forward for some wacky scenes of comedic levity or tender moments of romance to blossom. What’s presented, however, just feels like the barebones for the picture to run, with a lot of tribulations that characters face themselves in or caught in a sticky / steam situation felt removed and could’ve been easily added into the feature’s story. I don’t know, it just seems like a lot of the improve situations or these sequences were removed and trimmed off the feature’s final editing. In the end, Ticket to Paradise’s script lacks the necessary substance that it desperately craves to be, with the feature functioning on the bare minimum and feeling incomplete with missing pieces that could’ve benefited the story for a more hilarious and / or well-rounded take on romance and comedy.
Perhaps one of the best aspects that Ticket to Paradise has to offer is in the necessary star power it needs to headline the movie. Of course, most of the cast in the movie is pretty decent in their respective roles (although cookie cutter in their character development / personas), but the big highlight of the feature (and headlining the movie) as the feature’s “big ticketed” stars is actor George Clooney and actress Julia Roberts, who play David and Georgia Cotton, a once married couple that is now bitterly divorced and who are the parents to their daughter Lily. It’s no secret that Clooney, who is known for his roles in Ocean’s Eleven, Michael Clayton, and Up in the Air, and Roberts, who is known for her roles in Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, and My Best Friend’s Wedding, have quite friendship with one another, with the relationship being part of what I would call the recent “old guard” of A-listing acting talents (i.e. Clooney, Roberts, Damon, Affleck, Pitt, etc.) as well as appearing in several movies together, including Ocean’s Eleven, Money Monster, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Thus, the reuniting of Clooney and Roberts in Ticket to Paradise is indeed a welcome for the pairing old acting colleagues to play a bickering divorced husband and wife couple. The snarky “back and forth” banter is hilarious and easily each one plays off one another, which makes their on-screen chemistry electrifying to watch whenever they are appear. Neither one stands out above the other, which is kind of good as we (the viewers) get a good representation of both Clooney’s David and Roberts’s Georgia. Again, I really can’t stress enough the likeability that these two have in the movie and really do play off each other in a fun and amusing way. Perhaps the only downside that I would say that is their backstory could’ve had a bit more substance to it and feel kind of generic. This, of course, goes back to the film’s script shaping to be a bit too cookie cutter and not really developing the characters fully. Thus, the movie relies heavily on the star power for the characters of David and Georgia Cotton and banks on that notion. In the end, Ticket to Paradise is basically a vehicle for Clooney and Roberts to reunite and have fun (of which they clearly are) and are perhaps the best thing about this movie. If they weren’t involved on this project, I don’t think I would’ve liked the movie as much as I did.
Looking beyond Clooney and Roberts, Ticket to Paradise’s main catalyst characters of Lily Cotton, David and Georgia’s daughter, and Gede, Lily’s new fiancé, who are played by actress Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart and Dear Evan Hansen) and actor Maxime Bouttier (Rewrite and Unknown). Dever knows how to play such a wayward young adult character (as seeing in her past works), which makes her character Lily interesting as she throws away her big career opportunity to marry a local man that is a seaweed farmer, while Bouttier knows how to lay on the charm, with his nice and sweet personality in his portrayal of Gede. Again, the biggest problem that both characters face is in how generic they feel to the story, despite being one of the driving forces for much of the feature’s plot. More drama between Lily and Gede could’ve been added as well as few more sequences of them interacting with their respective parents for some parental confrontation / guidance moments as well as more comedic / romance time with the young people. Both Dever and Bouttier do what they can with the material given to them, yet there’s just something that I can’t put my finger on.
The movie doesn’t really have much of supporting characters in the movie, with maybe the exception being Paul, Georgia’s new boyfriend / pilot, and Wren Butler, Lily’s college friend, who are both played by actor Lucas Bravo (Emily in Paris and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris) and actress Billie Lourd (Booksmart and American Horror Story). While did enjoy both characters, I definitely felt both Paul and Wren could’ve been easily expanded upon and not utilized to their full potential in Ticket to Paradise’s story. Of course, the acting talent behind was good, with Bravo playing the suave (and sometimes clueless) and Lourd being a somewhat burned-out recent college graduate. Both are good enough for the movie, yet there just seems to be something lacking in their character. Bravo’s Paul is played for laughs and really doesn’t have a proper conclusion to its character, while it seems like many of Lourd’s Wren scenes were cut in the editing process, with her involvement a bit superfluous. Heck, Lourd has proven herself to be comic person as seeing in her of Gigi in Booksmart, which I figured that they were trying to get at, but it felt like a very watered-down iteration, with a lot of material removed for a slimer runtime. I definitely get what they were trying to go with the character of Wren, but it just ends up being a slight disappointment. There are several other minor characters that appear in the movie, but they are minuscule to say the least and definitely could’ve been fleshed out more for a more well-rounded presentation for setbacks and additionally players in Ticket to Paradise story, with most just there for a few plot beat continuity reasons and for comedic levity, which is kind of disappointing.
Despite their loathing animosity towards each other, David and Georgia must work together to help save their daughter from making a big wedding mistake in the movie Ticket to Paradise. Director Ol Parker’s latest film takes another look into the realm of romantic comedy, with the film being a prime vehicle for both Clooney and Roberts to reunite and share some witty and playful “back and forth” banter for some hilarious moments within a lighthearted feature. While the film lacks originality and never really colors outside the lines of the proven path of a rom com project (both in story and characters), the movie still manages to be cute and fun enough for a passable endeavor, thanks to the lighter tones of the feature, a scattering of humorous pieces, a breezy runtime, a solid presentation, and a relatively good cast, with notable attention given to Clooney and Roberts for their charismatic performances. Personally, I thought that this movie was fairly good. It’s definitely enjoyable to watch, easy to digest, and has that classic “feel good” for a romantic comedy endeavor, yet there just something about this particular film that lacks that certain “cinematic” drive to push it further into a more favorable territory. It’s basically a “paint-by-numbers” rom com that is elevated greatly by Clooney and Roberts’s involvement. Thus, my recommendation for this movie is a favorable “rent it” as the movie is harmless and something that should be watched if you’re looking for a lighthearted movie to view or something to listen to while you’re doing stuff around the house. In the end, while not exactly the quintessential romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise is a fluff piece that does the job it sets out to do by utilizing the likable chemistry between Clooney and Roberts in a fun, yet innocent rom com arena. It’s just a slight disappointment that film didn’t go deeper and bigger within the narrative tropes and antics for a more memorable piece. Thus, Ticket to Paradise comes off as a cut (yet mediocrely serviceable) romantic comedy endeavor.
3.4 Out of 5 (Rent It)
Released On: October 21st, 2022
Reviewed On: November 12th, 2022
Ticket to Paradise is 104 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for some strong language and brief suggestive material