Ticket to Paradise (2022)

“I’m so out of balance.”

Cheesy, silly, and sentimental to its core, Ticket to Paradise is a simple movie about the most complex human emotion of them all. It explores the great four-lettered word through partners, friends, and family in a way that’s honest even when the screen is glowing with a devilish grin or a mega-watt smile from either of its co-leads. Ticket to Paradise might be one of the most basic romantic comedies I’ve seen this year in terms of its script or direction; there’s nothing fancy about it. Yet the film makes you think about what it truly means to love, and to consider that word in all of its many complexities and shades and meanings. I don’t mean to call names, but it might require a true cynic to not find anything of value in Ticket to Paradise. Its heart is in the right place, telling a story that’s traveled as far and wide as the most frequent flyers. There’s a reason love doesn’t get old. It persists.

There’s no long lost love – or much of anything besides outright resentment – between David Cotton (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) outside their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). Lily has the pressure of being an only child, torn between separated parents who don’t exactly get along, and having just graduated law school decides to go on a trip to Bali with her bestie Wren (Billie Lourd). Luckily for Lily, the love of her life pulls up in a boat, and weeks later her parents get news of her engagement. David and Georgia can’t travel through time to undo their own marriage decades ago, but they can do their best to prevent Lily from making their same mistake. They honestly believe they’re trying to help their daughter when they’re really still wrestling with their own pain. We see how they look at each other, and in brief moments, they do too. It’s hard to put out a fire when it’s always drenched in some kind of emotion, be it bad or good; the feeling is still stoked either way.

While charming and charismatic from open to its freeze-framed end, Ticket to Paradise doesn’t spend enough time developing the in between with Lily and her fiancé Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a seaweed farmer by trade who seems to ground Lily and give her balance. They casually react in the dramatic moments, but seem to lack autonomy and development overall. It’s okay that they are such bench role players, but too much of the plot involves them, and it all feels a bit off kilter when so much of the focus is put on two screen legends; It’s easy to be magnetized by two of the world’s most charismatic leads even when they’re doing so little. Better writing and more adventurous direction from Ol Parker could have elevated this movie in so many ways. It’s pedestrian for sure, and thankfully less pedantic than I’m being in this review. Most casual moviegoers will fall hard and have fun.

Maybe I’m just a romantic at heart. Maybe I cherish what it feels like knowing – out of the crow’s nest corner of the eyes – that someone is looking at you in complete awe and admiration, and that you’re shooting them the same glance when they look away. And while this call back to golden era rom-coms doesn’t dance through emotions with the elegance of the ballroom or with the sturdy frame of a waltz, it somehow hits the right beats, makes the right moves, and shows us a story where age isn’t a limit on love. That it’s a product of place, time, circumstance. For better and sometimes for worse, Ticket to Paradise distills all three into one. It’s messy and clumsy and as raw as a tipsy wedding speech. But it never goes off the rails, it always makes senses, and if you’re a fool for love like me you’ll find a few tears around your eyes. The cheers is earned and echoed.

“Being loved is not the same as loving.”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s