“An enjoyable, lightweight comedy that shows George Clooney and Julia Roberts’ comedic chops. But nobody can come close to matching Billie Lourd.” We review Universal Pictures’ Ticket To Paradise.
As the summer ends and autumn begins, Hollywood has started releasing movies that fall in between the summer and winter months at the box office. Universal Pictures has slotted in ‘Ticket To Paradise’ in September in the UK and October in the United States. With not much to really trouble it at the box office during these months, it seems a logical decision. But I can’t shake the feeling that an August release may have suited the film better. Why? Because despite being a lightweight romantic comedy, the kind we’ve seen many times before, it is miles better than some of the summer fare we were offered. And it may have had a better chance at pulling in the big box office dollars.
Two divorced parents travel to Bali after learning their daughter, Lily, is planning to marry a local, Gede, whom she has just met. They decide to work together to sabotage the wedding to prevent Lily from making the same mistake they made twenty-five years ago.
The premise is nothing original. But that doesn’t stop the film from being a decent and often laugh-out-loud funny entry into the comedy/romance genre. From the opening that gives us a good chuckle or two through to the end credits (Don’t leave until after the gag reel that plays during the first half of the end credits), it is constantly funny. Not all of the jokes hit their mark. But the ones that do tickle the funny bone easily. Certain scenes will have the audience in stitches. Many of which involve Julia Roberts and Lucas Bravo as Paul, Georgia’s pilot boyfriend.
KAITLYN DEVER AND MAXIME BOUTTIER
As the love-struck couple, Kaitlyn Dever and Maxime Bouttier are great. Their performances really make us believe they are a young couple very much in love. And we can believe that Lily would be willing to abandon her budding career as a lawyer to live in Bali with Bottier’s Gede, a seaweed farmer (don’t worry, it is all explained.) When the pair of them are together, we get a sense of wonder between the two. Of young love finally rearing its head for the first time for both of them. And despite what we know her parents are really up to, we end up rooting for them both to succeed in getting married.
Lucas Bravo as Paul gets to have his own moments in the spotlight. He has a great sense of comic timing and we can’t help but laugh at the misery that befalls him on several occasions. One involves an encounter with my (least) favorite creature on the planet. The other concerns something that is ill-timed (You’ll know it when it happens). But Bravo’s comedic performance is a standout, despite his limited screen time.
GEORGE CLOONEY AND JULIA ROBERTS
George Clooney as David and Julia Roberts as Georgina, Lily’s parents, show off their comedic chops here. And both come across really well. They play off each other to brilliant effect at times. And you can believe that they are two people that genuinely hate each other. Their verbal sparring is often hilarious. And the barbs they trade with each other are both witty and highly amusing. But deep down, we get the feeling that they have unfinished business with each other. That some kind of good feelings remains buried deep with them. And with that in mind, there lies a problem. We are already on the path of predictability with the film. And that is a shame because there is so much to like about the pairing here.
Both play their parts really well. And the comedic timing shown by both is superb from the start. They share some great comedic scenes. These come at us thick and fast at times. But nothing, and I do mean NOTHING can top the bar scene. Instead of Beer Pong, we have Arak Pong. Arak is a stronger flavored liquor, a traditional alcoholic beverage in Western Asia. And it should be watered down. Not so here. It is consumed straight. And our leads get completely wasted and dance badly to some classic 1990s tunes. And it truly is hilariously funny to watch.
But despite all the great acting from everyone concerned, nobody can come close to matching Billie Lourd. Known more for her appearances in the ‘Star Wars’ sequels, her roles in ‘American Horror Story’, and for being the daughter of the late Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd here is a revelation. From the second we meet her as Lily’s best friend Wren, we are totally in love with her. She gets some of the best lines in the film. And she deserves them.
From first appearing before graduation swigging from a bottle of booze, to having to be pushed through the airport on a baggage trolley hungover, to her brilliant scene between herself and Clooney, Billie Lourd nails it. Her role could easily be dismissed as the friend who just appears here and there. But when she’s not on the screen, we find ourselves missing her. And she is most certainly the MVP here.
THE DIRECTION AND THE VISUALS
The film is directed well enough by Ol Parker, who also contributes to the screenplay with Daniel Pipski. Parker keeps the film zipping along at a decent pace and frames every scene well. His keen eye for what he is filming shines through, giving the film a wonderfully colorful, bright look. The scenery of Queensland, Australia (standing in for Bali) is breathtakingly beautiful. And Parker shows it to us in glorious detail. Just by looking at the colors that shine through, the scenery of Queensland, and everything that the film has to show, we are transported there as if by magic. And I at several points wanted to visit the location, such is the magnitude and beauty of it all.
The film will entertain the masses with ease, despite having a sense of predictability to it. It is an enjoyable, lightweight comedy that doesn’t wear out its welcome and seems to fly through its 104-minute runtime. The score by Lorne Balfe does enough to perfectly accompany what we see on screen and brings a sense of wonder to the proceedings. The entire cast is in top form and brings everything they need to a romantic comedy that will send the audience home with a smile on their faces.
With an ending that isn’t quite what we expect it to be but slightly predictable all the same, it ends with a terrific freeze frame to which we find ourselves sighing in satisfaction. Sit back and prepare to be entertained on the journey to a faraway island with two of America’s best-loved stars. It is a trip worth taking.
“Ticket To Paradise” is released by Universal Pictures. It opens in the U.K on Tuesday, 20th September, and on October 21st in the United States.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!