Matt is a movie watcher, book reader, video game player, and music listener
What is a movie star? You know em when you see em but its tough to explain it. Tom Cruise? Movie star. Denzel Washington? Movie star. Florence Pugh? In my opinion, movie star.
Movie stars can carry a movie on their own. It doesn’t matter the quality of everything else in it, the movie star will make it enjoyable to watch. The movie does not have to be incredible, good, or even memorable on its own, they will make it memorable.
Ticket to Paradise is what happens when you give movie stars a by the book, cliche movie and let them actually be movie stars. George Clooney and Julia Roberts are the reason that this movie is worth watching. It has some very dumb explanations for character decisions (getting divorced because your vacation house burned down), it tries to paint people who design skyscrapers and own a massive art gallery as being relatable, and its big message at the end is ‘move to Bali’.
And all of that doesnt matter, because Clooney and Roberts give us a great time and, I think, exactly what we need more of. We need more movies where we rely mostly on the charms of the actor, nothing else.
Young actors today rarely, if ever, get that chance. Tom Holland is one of the most popular actors in the world but we don’t know much about him as a movie lead. He is known all over the world as Spider Man, and only as Spider Man. Thanks to Marvel’s marketing, omnipresence in our culture, and not to mention working with already popular IP, you only ever see Tom Holland as Peter Parker, never as himself. Whenever he tries to play against that (The Devil All the Time) you are only seeing Peter Parker as someone else, not Tom Holland. Whenever he just has to be a charming male lead he doesn’t have that many options, his best option is an Uncharted movie where he isn’t trusted to make Nathan Drake his own, instead Nolan North shows up to basically say “Hey its me! Remember me? I did that first!”.
Is any of that Tom Holland’s fault? I don’t think so, I think those are just the cards he was dealt.
The plot of Ticket to Paradise is very simple. David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) Cotton are divorced parents to their daughter Lilly (Kaitlyn Denver) who has just graduated college and took a trip to Bali with friends to celebrate. While there she meets Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a local seaweed farmer and the two quickly fall in love. Within two months they are preparing for a wedding, and David and Georgia decide to put aside their differences and team up to stop their daughter from making, what they consider, to be a huge mistake.
As I’ve said already, Clooney and Roberts are the big draw of this movie but the rest of the cast should also be praised. Denver and Bouttier have good chemistry and manage to always hold their own in scenes with Clooney and/or Roberts. Billie Lourd’s ‘best friend’ character is pretty cliche and one-note but it’s light hearted and enjoyable. Which is a statement that could be applied to the whole movie honestly. The cultural differences between Lilly and Gede’s parents are played for laughs without being offensive, and even more impressively, patronizing. Gede’s father is at first presented as a mysterious, slightly scary asian man but is quickly shown to be a dad messing with people. Both he and Gede’s mother are shown to be those overbearing, loving parents that we all have met before, and its a great contrast to the Cotton’s dysfunction. Being used to the ways your family works and then seeing someone else be, to you at least, so open and affectionate to one another is a long used gag but again, its light hearted and fun.
My attitude towards these cliches may seem hypocritical to some of you. You’re like “Matt, all you’ve said this whole review is basically ‘This is cliche but its fine’. Meanwhile, you trashed the Gray Man for all of its cliches!”. Well here’s the thing, I wasn’t trashing the cliches of The Gray Man, I was trashing them having cliches and then spending every conversation going ‘Hey! That again huh?” Cliches can be pretty enjoyable when the movie doesn’t spend all of its time going ‘Ha ha, this sure is dumb huh guys?’. Movies trying that style basically lose all sense of drama, or even an attempt at drama. You don’t care when Billy Bob Thorton dies in Gray Man because you’re expecting a ‘witty’ comment about the cliche of sacrificing yourself. Even if a comment doesn’t actually come, you’re expecting it and thats all it takes to break the immersion you have in a movie.
Ticket to Paradise plays all the cliches straight, and trusts its actors to make you care about their characters. If you feel at all when David talks about how he and Georgia grew apart then you don’t care about any dumb reason the movie gives you. If you share Gede and Lilly’s frustration when their rings are ‘lost’ (stolen by David and Georgia) you don’t care when the problem is fixed like thirty seconds later. If you’re interested in characters and story, then a lot of ‘movie bullshit’ can be overlooked and accepted. If you’re constantly seeing characters joke about how their own movie is stupid and not serious, well, it doesnt take long until you start agreeing with them and mentally check out.
We need more movies like Ticket to Paradise, a solid ‘B’ on the movie scale, an original story that doesn't have ambitions of becoming a franchise. Original movies today have an expectation that they are either Oscar contenders or making some grand statement about society and the world at large. This movie is not that, the biggest statement is ‘maybe don’t get divorced’ and maybe it’s not even that. Maybe the message is just ‘here’s George Clooney and Julia Roberts, have fun’. And that is totally fine, movies can just be light hearted and fun
© 2022 Matt Evangelisto