Ticket to Paradise

by Toby Woollaston

Verdict: More like a ticket to the Gold Coast than the Maldives.

Writer/director Ol Parker, known for syrupy treats such as Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has now mixed a new cocktail of colourful delights: one part Kaitlyn Dever, one part tropical setting, and a generous twist of Julia Roberts liberally drizzled over a very dishy George Clooney. Parker certainly knows his romcom ingredients and with Ticket to Paradise, he’s perfected the recipe for mass consumption … perhaps too much, as this film occasionally tastes like a premixed RTD.

Set almost entirely in Indonesia (Bali to be specific), bickering divorcées David and Georgia (Clooney and Roberts) begrudgingly team up to chase after their daughter, Lily (Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever, unfortunately on autopilot) who has seemingly rushed into an engagement with a local seaweed farmer (Maxime Bouttier). Their attempts to derail the marriage lead to a number of farcical events that ultimately force them to re-evaluate their own lives and, unsurprisingly, their past relationship.

A few side characters chime in, most notably Georgia’s toy-boyfriend, a cloyingly handsome but clueless French pilot (Lucas Bravo) and Lily’s bestie, Wren (another Booksmart alumni, Billie Lourd) provide further comic relief and plot filler. But it’s Clooney and Roberts who do most of this film’s heavy lifting and offer a number of laugh-out-loud moments as they serve and volley salvos of shrewd semantics at each other. And although their squabbling does begin to feel like a vehicle solely for comedy rather than shifting along the narrative and character development it is their acting chops that elevate this film above the uneven tropical water.

Sure, Ticket to Paradise is about as predictable as a happy-hour piña colada from the Tiki Bar, but really, does anyone go into a romcom expecting a reinvention of the recipe?! This movie is a calculable beachside cocktail—a reliably formulaic, frothy, romantic sugar rush that’ll evaporate soon after leaving the theatre. Just don’t go in expecting anything fresh or nutritional and you’ll be fine.

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.