Welcome back, George and Julia.
Well, maybe that’s a bit premature, especially since the two Hollywood legends have worked fairly consistently the last few years. Even so, it still feels like their roles have been relegated to smaller films as opposed to more high-profile projects that simply allow them to be movie stars.
So, in this way, Ticket to Paradise feels like a long-awaited return.
Ticket to Paradise tells the story of David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts), a long-divorced couple who can’t stand to be around one another. However, when their daughter Lily announces her engagement to a man she’s just met while on vacation, the two exes (try to) put their differences aside in an effort to foil her wedding plans.
Admittedly, the film is not going to break any new ground in terms of storytelling. Directed and co-written by Ol Parker, Paradise features a script that could be taken from any of a number of rom-coms of the past. Even so, Paradise feels somewhat predictable as it unravels, following the formula unapologetically.
But no one is going to see Ticket to Paradise for its shocking plot-twists.
No, the sheer delight of the rom-com lies with the effectiveness of its cast. (In fact, the genre lives and dies on it.) The whole appeal of the genre is to see two likeable characters put aside their differences and potentially come together at the end. But, to make this work, it requires two leads that can charm the audience with believable chemistry.
And, frankly, there are few others who have the chemistry of Clooney and Roberts.
While they’re not quite one of Hollywood’s iconic couples, Roberts and Clooney have been close friends for so long that their time on screen together is effortless. In every scene, one can see the mutual joy and respect they have for each other as actors and friends. As a result, the story feels less like work and more like play for the Oscar winners, making Paradise feel more like a vacation with friends than an island disaster.
At its heart, this is a film which encourages you to seize the day. Having married quickly in their youth, David and Georgia found their marital bliss short-lived. Because their relationship became a flaming wreckage, their frustration with their daughter’s plans stems from the fear that she might succumb to the same fate. Even though Lily and Gede may have met in paradise, her parents know that rough roads lie ahead. Based on their experiences, marriage requires being in the right place, with the right person in the right circumstances.
And, according to her parents, Lily is 0 for 3.
However, the film also argues that seizing the moment is essential, especially when the opportunity for joy arises. Though they have known one another only briefly, Lily and Gede’s connection runs deep. The brevity of their relationship means little as they bring each other such delight that they’re willing to reorient their life plans. To them, the potential reward of being together far outweighs the risk of ‘common sense’.
But, more importantly, Paradise knows that the ‘perfect’ person is always flawed. No matter how faultless a person may seem, the film reminds us that it doesn’t mean that they actually are. Sometimes, what makes a person ‘perfect’ is the way that they challenge us, rather than tells us only what they think we want to hear. (The phrase ‘iron sharpening iron’ comes to mind.) Paradise knows that relationships require work, commitment and, above all, grace. Yet, even in the hardest times, there is joy knowing that they support you and remain committed to your relationship. In these moments, they bring our souls to life.
In Paradise, a person is ‘perfect’ only if they make you more fully yourself.
To co-opt David’s ideas about romance, Ticket to Paradise requires the right place, the right cast, and the right circumstances to make it worthwhile for those looking for some escapist fun. By these standards, Paradise manages to check all its boxes. Stunning exotic backdrop? Absolutely. Reliable and bankable stars? Without question. Right circumstances? Not perfect but still more than worth the price of a Ticket.
Ticket to Paradise is available in theatres on Friday, October 21st, 2022.