‘Ticket to Paradise’ review: Julia Roberts and George Clooney, ta-da!

As if we needed additional proof, but the breezy new romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise confirms that Julia Roberts and George Clooney still look great in the air, on land or at sea; wear formal wear, swimsuits and wetsuits; bicker, joke and bury the hatchet.

A sleepless night in a humid jungle can’t defeat Robert’s iconic hair or mess with Clooney’s perfectly manicured neck. Likewise, a film largely devoid of surprises and character details cannot entirely remove the appeal of seeing these two movie stars at a time when the viability of films and stars has been questioned. At one point, their characters are called dinosaurs. Part of the appeal of Ticket to Paradise is seeing Roberts and Clooney together before they — and that kind of glossy studio entertainment — die out.

Morbid? Hey, we’re all getting older. Even Clooney’s sandpaper stubble is sometimes hard to spot now, its color more salty than peppery. But I’m not so grim, as I sit back in the wistful tone of Ticket to Paradise, whose leads reflect on missed opportunities and reminisce about their youth living by the adage, “Why save the good stuff for later.” ?”

A woman in an embroidered dress smiles at a man in a tuxedo.

Julia Roberts (left) and George Clooney star in Ticket to Paradise.

(Vince Valitutti/Universal Pictures via AP)

When the movie starts, the good stuff between Georgia (Roberts) and David (Clooney) seems to be in the distant rearview mirror. We are introduced to these characters as director Ol Parker (“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”), who wrote the film with Daniel Pipski, cuts between them and recalls how they met 25 years ago and spontaneously have married. Your accounts are different. “Her parents thought she was too young,” David recalls. Georgia opinion? “They thought he wasn’t good enough for me.”

But again…removed rearview mirror. Georgia and David divorced 20 years ago, we learn, for reasons they don’t really seem to understand themselves. That hasn’t stopped them from developing a smoldering animosity over the course of two decades, so much so that their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) can’t bring herself to tell them they’ll be sitting next to each other to graduate from college. Good thing they never have to see each other again, right? Right???

The plot mechanics call for a reunion, and we get one after Lily travels to Bali with her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) and decides to marry the first local seaweed farmer she meets, Gede (Maxime Bouttier). Mom and Dad pack up their casual clothes, strike a truce, and agree on a strategy: They will outwardly support their daughter’s plans while sabotaging the wedding so the teens don’t make the same mistake they made all those years ago.

Roberts, of course, has experience of this sort of thing, having planned to break up Cameron Diaz and Dermot Mulroney 25 years ago(!) in My Best Friend’s Wedding. This movie isn’t as good as this rom-com classic, which featured a top-notch Rupert Everett and a subversive script that wasn’t afraid to cast shadows on Roberts as the villain, even though you were still for him. (Mostly. Maybe?)

A young man and woman sit at a table with a bottle of alcohol.

Maxime Bouttier, left, and Kaitlyn Dever in Ticket to Paradise.

(Universal Pictures via AP)

Ticket to Paradise doesn’t invest enough time or energy in the young lovers to make you care if they make it down the aisle or not. This film is all about beautiful people, gorgeous scenery, and the elders rekindling their romance, with the main obstacles on that front being Georgia’s annoyingly adoring French boyfriend (the appealing Lucas Bravo from Emily in Paris) and time who need them to realize that their biggest mistake wasn’t their marriage, it was their divorce.

But if you’ve seen the movie’s trailer (or not), you probably know all this. Just as you know that Roberts’ unbridled laugh remains one of the film’s great delights, and that Clooney can play awkward stupidity just as convincingly as suave elegance. While Top Gun: Maverick’s secret weapon was Tom Cruise at Mach 10, Ticket to Paradise climaxes with Roberts and Clooney playing a wild game of beer pong while dancing around to House of Pain.

Dinosaur? Maybe. But let’s hope the asteroid doesn’t hit for a while.

“Ticket to Paradise”

Rated: PG-13, for some strong language and short stimulating material

Duration: 1 hour 44 minutes

To play: Begins October 21st in general release

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-10-20/ticket-to-paradise-review-julia-roberts-george-clooney ‘Ticket to Paradise’ review: Julia Roberts and George Clooney, ta-da!

Sarah Ridley

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