Madeline Choi reviews the newest rom-com tropes following flick that will make you laugh and space out to ‘exotic’ lands.
Another classic feel-good formulaic rom-com, Ol Parker’s Ticket to Paradise is a trope magnet. Whether you’re a fan of the enemies to lovers, the troublesome situation leading to forced proximity, the unrealistic meet-cutes, or the heaps of grand gestures, Parker’s newest y2k reminiscent, feel-good flick has them all. Ticket to Paradise is the kind of film you watch with a certain, or rather lack of, objective in mind. It’s easy on the eye, with a star-studded cast— comprising of Academy Award winner leads George Clooney and Julia Roberts, as well as new Hollywood darlings like Booksmart‘s Kaitlyn Denver. That’s all the film really is: a safe watch for a good family-friendly time and an overly cute yet forgettable romantic comedy.
I wouldn’t have questioned Ticket to Paradise for being an early 2000s flick. Parker’s entire film is based on an oversaturated, empty-shelled, and borderline problematic premise of a burnt-out corporate young adult falling in love with an ‘exotic’ island she sees as an escape form. It all starts with Denver’s character, Lily, graduating from law school and embarking on a celebratory trip to Bali with her best friend, and roommate, Wren (played by AHS’s Billie Lourd). The two characters seem to be, as you’d expect, polar opposites: Lily, the uptight to-be-lawyer, and Wren, her comedic side character. Lily’s divorced parents, David and Georgia (played by Clooney and Roberts) are forced to reunite for her graduation as they send her off on her trip. It’s clear from the get-go that David and Georgia can’t stand one another (although, Clooney and Roberts’ chemistry makes this impossible to believe); they put it all aside, though, to protect their daughter from taking hasty life-changing decisions whilst on ‘exotic’ lands.
The cinematography of the film is without a doubt, stunning. The film parades montage after montage of aerial shots of the beautiful island and everything Bali has to offer: resorts with countless private pools, fun bars, and…dolphins. But western romantic comedies are no strangers to the glamorisation of South-East Asian countries that only seems to benefit its American cast, and Ticket to Paradise is certainly not an exception. The title even spoils that from the get-go: Ticket (singular) to Paradise (spoiler: an island far, far away from the grey, corporate, soul-less Chicago). However, the film tries to stray away from previous romantic comedy racial undertones by incorporating Indonesian rites of passage and cultural practices. In particular, a large part of the plot chooses to focus on the tradition of the Big Three: right person, right time, and right circumstance. Ostensibly, this appears to be about Lily and Gede, but it’s obviously a plot device used to cement David and Georgia’s unsettled romantic history.
The film’s apparent flippant yet not entirely self-aware attitude towards itself allows for a fun time where the audience would not mind turning the blind eye to its problematic and outdated premises. That’s in part, because Ticket to Paradise never fails to the viewer know that it ultimately doesn’t take itself seriously. The film is carried by the powerful cast chemistry with kudos to the solid performances of the leading couple, Clooney and Roberts. It’s no surprise that both manage to save their underdeveloped characters as it’s clear that they are genuinely having fun during their performances. Not a single audience member will buy their initial hatred for one another.
A review for this film wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Roberts’ comeback as the ultimate rom-com queen (think Pretty Woman (1990), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), and Eat Pray Love (2010) – just to name a few!). Ticket to Paradise really cements that Roberts can’t go wrong with a feel-good romantic comedy. Moreover, C+C Music Factory’s 1990 hit Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) soundtracking a beer pong game between Clooney and Roberts plays an excellent tribute to rom-coms and is an epitome of the guilty pleasure exhilaration feelings exuded by similar works in the genre.
Ticket to Paradise is a film for Sunday nights. Something you can take your parents to, a quick watch you can enjoy on the sofa, and a forgettable romantic comedy that will be buried under the genre’s outshining catalogue. Overall, its snappy editing, beautiful but incomplete portrayal of Bali, and charismatic cast lend for a feel-good 104 minutes that you will end up rating 2 or 3 stars on Letterboxd.
Ticket to Paradise out now! Watch the trailer here: