If you want a gorgeous movie starring gorgeous people, then “Ticket to Paradise” might be your ticket to paradise. Set against the backdrop of the almost surreal Bali (actually filmed in Australia), the movie features a divorced couple–George Clooney and Julia Roberts (playing a dynamic similar to “When Harry Met Sally”)–trying to stop their daughter’s marriage.
After graduation, Lily Cotton, played by Kaitlyn Dever (of “The Last Man Standing” and “Booksmart” fame), heads off to Bali with her best friend to celebrate and let loose. There she meets the dreamy Bali native and seaweed farmer Gede, played by Maxime Bouttier, and falls in love. The relaxed nature of Bali and the closeness of Gede’s family draws Lily in, and she chooses to marry him and stay in Bali.
As it is set in Bali with a wedding rooted in Balinese traditions, filmmakers and actors called in a Bali culture consultant, Agung Pindha, who eventually was asked to act in the film as Gede’s father. Throughout the film, the writers strove to not have the traditions be the butt of the joke, instead having them be symbols of family and love that bring the couple closer together during their wedding.
Despite not getting enough screen time, Gede’s family was the ideal family in contrast to Lily’s parents who spend most of the film arguing and competing. Craving a family she never had, it makes sense that she would jump into this huge commitment and being burned by love, it makes sense that her parents wouldn’t want their daughter to make the same mistakes they did.
This very real-feeling portrayal of divorce and how it affects family speaks to a lot of American households in a time where divorce is more than common. It’s a good story to have, a story where a daughter finds her own definition of love and family after seeing her parents squander their own marriage.
“Ticket to Paradise” is far from showstopping, but it’s a fun film. It balances the constant cliches with the actors’ great performances and even greater hair. No matter what is happening in the plot, the hair and makeup of the characters is perfect, almost as perfect as Clooney and Roberts’ antagonistic chemistry.
This film shows the power of Hollywood royalty having fun. What made the film work was Roberts’ and Clooney’s antics, and how they seemed to be laughing the entire time.
Part of the reason the actors might work so well is that a lot of the roles were tailor-made for them, and some of the pairings were based on existing chemistry, from George and Julia to the onscreen roommates’ having costarred previously in “Booksmart.” Despite having so much riding on the promises of the actors, it managed to win us over and work well, almost as well as the seaweed farming business who, despite only growing a few crops, is able to get a deal with Whole Foods.
However, despite the strength of the acting, many characters were underdeveloped. If you weren’t the main family, we have many questions about your backstory and financial situation, specifically: how were the girls able to afford an over two-months stay in Bali before they started their first jobs? The roommate, in particular, had very little screen time and her arc felt unresolved, even though Billie Lourd was hilarious every time she interacted with the Cotton family.
Additionally, the ending of the film was weak and confusing. While the sun set over the happy maybe-couple, we found ourselves rooting for George and Julia to stay apart for their own good, and the movie gave an unclear answer of where they stood. It would have been better if they had learned to be civilly divorced, as that makes more sense in the context of the film, is a much better lesson, and diverts stereotypes for these types of movies.
Don’t expect the next Best Picture at the Oscars when queuing up “Ticket To Paradise.” Instead, get excited to watch a witty comedy celebrating two greats who haven’t graced our screens in a while. Anticipate a beautiful movie with beautiful people, which it more than succeeds at being.