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Ticket to Paradise review: George Clooney and Julia Roberts have a blast

The new film slavishly adheres to conventional rom-com tropes but it's hard not to be won over by its A-list leads.

Ticket to Paradise review
Published: Thursday, 15th September 2022 at 5:58 pm
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A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Take an idyllic overseas beachside location where a young bride is planning her dream wedding, add parents in the throes of cat-and-mouse conflict, and what have you got? Hands down if your answer is Mamma Mia!, although while mercifully free of that film’s menopausal karaoke, Ticket to Paradise nevertheless slavishly adheres to conventional, instantly recognisable rom-com tropes.


George Clooney is go-getter Chicago architect David, long divorced from Julia Roberts’s sophisticated Los Angeles gallery owner Georgia, the couple’s paths crossing only in matters concerning their law student daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever).

Having lived separate lives for 15 years, viewers first see them crash into each other’s orbits at Lily’s graduation ceremony, the antagonism of old quickly bubbling to the surface (“Just for once, I wish you would back me up,” barks David during one prickly exchange. “But then I’d be wrong too,” retorts Georgia, matter-of-factly).

Fast forward a couple of months and Lily’s post-graduation holiday romance with Bali seaweed farmer Gede (Maxime Bouttier) has blossomed into something much more serious. Still blowing on the burned fingers of their own catastrophic plighting of troths, the father and mother of the bride-to-be rush to the pictureseque Indonesian province, to throw a spanner in the works of their lovestruck offspring’s nuptials.

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Thus, the scene is set for adversaries forming an uneasy alliance to prevent the apple of their eye from repeating their own mistakes, the supposedly wiser elders’ course of action less about persuasion than it is sabotage.

There’s little need to outline the route the plot takes from here, because what follows is a by-the-book, curveball-bereft yarn with sparks flying all too intermittently, a smidgen of half-hearted slapstick (two scenes involving animal bites), and the occasional uncomfortable dig at foreigners and their funny ways.

Clooney and Roberts are terrific, though, their combined star power beaming with the breezy chemistry we didn’t see enough of in their last joint outings as estranged spouses, 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven and its 2004 sequel.

Both appear to relish the acid-tongued sparring, not least on the flight to Bali (with Georgia’s current, much younger squeeze Lucas Bravo as their pilot), and when a low-key night out with their future son-in-low descends into let-loose drunken dancing to club hits from their own twenties.

With the exception of some isolated mugging from Clooney, both are close to the top of their game, so it’s a pity the screenplay, co-written by director Oli Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), doesn’t bare its teeth as savagely as it could. The stars’ dialogue is deliciously combative but all too often lacking the killer put-down blow the ruthlessness of the characters deserves.

Dever, so impressive in her teenage years as an integral recurring presence in TV’s Justified and awards-laden for her lead role in the 2019 indie hit Booksmart, has the largely thankless task of mild-mannered mediator between ma and pa, so it’s left to Bravo as Georgia’s dim but well-meaning beau to provide the comic support.

Kaitlyn Dever in Ticket to Paradise
Kaitlyn Dever and Maxime Bouttier in Ticket to Paradise Universal Pictures

Billie Lourd (a mainstay of the anthology series American Horror Story) puts in a good shift too, even though the part of Lily’s boozy best friend Wren is underwritten and ultimately hamstrung by being cut from such stereotypical cloth.

But this is first and foremost the George & Julia show; a pair of hardy A-list perennials having a blast (evidenced further by a wealth of wisecracking bloopers over the closing credits) in a gorgeously pretty part of the world.

And while their borderline unlikeable characters may be guilty of atrocious, unforgivable behaviour, it’s a safe bet most viewers will be rooting for them to come to their senses and bury hatchets elsewhere than in each other’s heads.

Ticket to Paradise is released in UK cinemas on 20th September 2022. While you're waiting, visit our Movies hub for more news and features or find something to watch tonight with our TV Guide.


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