Skip to main content
film review
Open this photo in gallery:

George Clooney, right, and Julia Roberts in Ticket to Paradise.Vince Valitutti/Universal Pictures via AP

Ticket to Paradise

Directed by Ol Parker

Written by Ol Parker and Daniel Pipski

Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Kaitlyn Dever

Classification PG; 104 minutes

Opens in theatres Oct. 21

A bitterly divorced couple flies to Bali to save their daughter from what appears to be a vacation fling turned quickie marriage – what could go wrong? For Ticket to Paradise, the latest from Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again writer-director Ol Parker, the answer is: just enough to keep the plot moving.

Ocean’s 11 and Money Monster co-stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts reunite onscreen here as acrimonious divorcees David and Georgia, who – despite once falling madly for each other 25 years ago – can barely stand to sit next to each other at their daughter Lily’s (Kaitlyn Dever) convocation. Fiercely resentful of one another, David and Georgia are quick to dampen the feeling of any space they share with their barbed one-liners and whispered insults.

When Lily jets off to Bali with her carefree best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) to decompress from final exams, what begins as just a holiday grows into a month-long affair and, finally, an engagement with a kind-hearted Balinese seaweed farmer by the name of Gede (Maxime Bouttier). Shocked by the news of their daughter’s soon approaching nuptials, Georgia and David put to rest their shared antagonism and scheme to put a stop to the ceremony.

Everything that follows is less about Lilys happiness or even Gede and his family (as welcoming and kind as they are), and more about the spectre of their own failed relationship, which threateningly looms over their daughter’s future. Despite the gorgeous Balinese landscape and the generosity of Gede’s family in hosting the pair, David and Georgia are single-minded in their approach to breaking up the young couple.

Open this photo in gallery:

Maxime Bouttier and Kaitlyn Dever, right, in Ticket to Paradise.Universal Pictures via AP

The impact of their conniving plans hits them quickly; soon David and Georgia have to contend with the sobering reality of actively disrupting their daughter and Gede’s happiness. What Ticket to Paradise does best is sit with this aspect of its characters, complicating the otherwise breezy nature of its storyline and dialogue with the truth of David and Georgia’s self-centredness.

Their negative qualities are made all the more visible when viewed in comparison to Gede and his family, who maintain the moral compass of the movie. It’s telling that it’s only David and Georgia who need to come to some obvious realizations about themselves and the world around them, and interactions between Gede and his family help expose that reality (and offer some much-needed humour).

In many ways, Ticket to Paradise points to the pedigree of its writer-director. Similar in tone to his earlier work with Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and 2004′s sleeper hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for which he penned the screenplay), Parker’s newest flick is an airy and lighthearted romp that tepidly skates by on its own complete ordinariness. While not scoring many points in terms of originality or boldness of vision, Ticket to Paradise knows exactly the audience it is aiming for and hits its beats – however obvious or corny.

Even if the effect of watching two mega-screen icons banter back and forth for an hour and change doesn’t add up to much, Clooney and Roberts still have a sort of sparkle between them. It is the exact sort of wholly inoffensive, if bland, charisma that’s perfect for low-key, weekend watching (made even better in your pyjamas and on your couch).

Special to The Globe and Mail

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.