There are certain duos that just make sense together - Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, The Rock and Kevin Hart, Seth Rogen and James Franco, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan... they all bring chemistry to the screen of the films they have starred in together. But George Clooney and Julia Roberts, who have stared in five movies together, are finally are reuniting in a rom-com, and it truly feels like a cinematic event.
'Ticket to Paradise' follows Lily (Kaitlyn Dever, 'Booksmart', 'Dear Evan Hansen') who, after graduating college, goes on a trip to Bali with best friend Wren (Billie Lourd, 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker', TV's 'American Horror Story') and something unexpected happens. Here she meets Gede (Maxime Bouttier) and the two instantly fall in love and immediately plan to get married just 37 days later. Her divorced parents David (Clooney, 'Money Monster', 'Tomorrowland') and Georgia (Roberts, 'Wonder', 'Ben is Back') make the trip to Bali for the wedding, but after years of feuding must put that all aside and team up to put a stop to the wedding to prevent their daughter making the same mistakes they did.
'Ticket to Paradise' is one of those movies that, if you like what's been sold to you, you'll have an enjoyable time. It doesn't really go beyond that plot synopsis above, and it's not here to change the rom-com genre; it's just a plain and simple concept, which for me was both a good and a bad thing. You have Clooney and Roberts together, and the film almost feels afraid to let them have fun. It absolutely shines when it's just the two of them trying to outwit each other, and could have really soared with more of those moments. Every time the movie goes back into plot territory, it's never boring but it just feels so dry. The film ends with outtakes, and you can see how much fun they had on set, but it's a shame that didn't fully translate to the final product. It feels like you are watching your friends' vacation footage, and yes it's funny and cute, but there is a disconnect since you weren't there.
The film absolutely shines when it's just Clooney and Roberts trying to outwit each other, and could have really soared with more of those moments.
The ensemble cast is also underutilised. Dever is giving it her all, truly giving an award-winning performance and really hitting it in the more emotional scenes. Most disappointingly, Lourd is severely underused and often blends into the background. Particularly since they have worked together previously, it felt odd not to see them shine.
'Ticket to Paradise' was filmed last year in Queensland as a substitute for Bali due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the most part it's very unnoticeable. However, there are some weirdly noticeable green screen scenes, and I say weirdly because it mainly occurs in scenes that are indoors - like the hotel, for example.
For Clooney and Roberts fans, 'Ticket to Paradise' gives you everything you would want. It's a fun watch, but don't be expecting it to be the next great rom-com. You'll have an enjoyable cinema trip, but don't be getting a return ticket.