Release Date(s)2022 (December 13, 2022)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
Ticket to Paradise follows an established romantic comedy template, setting its story in a luxurious location and featuring two radiant stars. A lot of the joy of the film is savoring the screen chemistry between two Hollywood pals as they exchange tart repartee in an old-fashioned tale of romance and the spell of magical surroundings.
Georgia (Julia Roberts) and David (George Clooney) are the bitterly divorced parents of Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), a driven student who has just graduated from college. Needing to decompress before starting law school, Lily agrees to a vacation in Bali with her best friend, Wren Butler (Billie Lourd). Lily falls in love with the island and with handsome Balinese seaweed farmer Gede (Maxime Bouttier), and her intended course in life abruptly changes. Lily startles her parents with news that she and Gede have become engaged. Alarmed that Lily is impulsively throwing away a promising future, the battling ex-spouses race to Bali together and try to agree on a plan to dissuade her from going ahead with the wedding.
Georgia and David are obviously uncomfortable being in such close proximity to one another. Not even the idyllic scenery in Bali can distract them from bickering, airing sore wounds, and tossing recriminations back and forth. However, as they see their daughter and Gede together in a virtual paradise, they see how much in love the two young people are and their concerns begin to diminish.
Director Ol Parker relies on Roberts’ and Clooney’s star power to carry a slim screenplay by Parker and Daniel Pipski. We’ve seen this kind of film before, decades earlier, with stars such as Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, or Katharine Hepburn heading the cast. Though not exactly a screwball comedy, with exaggerated events, unlikely coincidences, and mature adults acting like brats, Ticket to Paradise is derived from that subgenre. Yet in its attempt to recreate the wit and sharp-edged comments of 1930s screwball heroes and heroines, the dialogue never seems authentic but rather a contrivance to establish the vitriol between Georgia and David.
Roberts tries a bit too hard to convey both hauteur and annoyance toward David while projecting motherly concern for Lily. Had she tamped down her performance somewhat, she’d have been more convincing. What we have instead is a movie star milking her aura rather than truly inhabiting a mother and ex-wife facing complex issues. If you’re only interested in gazing at Roberts’ beauty and enjoying that famous laugh, her acting shortcomings probably won’t matter.
Clooney is thoroughly comfortable in front of the camera. Unlike Roberts, he knows how to moderate his delivery and body language. Very often, his best moments are a glance toward Georgia or a bit of fatherly advice to a daughter who has found love. His sense of comic timing is excellent and his smile is irresistible. I just wish he had better material to work with.
Kaitlyn Dever and Maxime Bouttier make a nice couple, though they’re no dramatic heavyweights. In their roles, it’s adequate to look pretty, smile, and convey young love. Billie Lourd provides a good deal of comedy as Lily’s best buddy. With a wry sense of humor, she always manages to land a good line or two and isn’t overused, so that when she’s on screen, she’s a welcome break from the main focus on Georgia and David.
Lucas Bravo plays Georgia’s current boyfriend, Paul, in the type of role that in the 1930s would have been played by Ralph Bellamy—the guy who hopes to marry the leading lady but can’t hold a romantic candle to the leading man. Bravo’s Paul is sincere but awkward in a charming way, making his moments on screen shine.
The exquisite beaches of Australia’s Gold Coast stand in for Bali’s white sands and turquoise waters, and the photography is spectacular. Sweeping aerial views and magnificent wide shots capture the picture-postcard vistas that serve as background for the action. Ol Parker makes sure to include plenty of scenes that exploit the dazzling scenery. Some films attempt to create lush environments but fall short. Ticket to Paradise certainly lives up to its title.
Ticket to Paradise was captured by director of photography Ole Birkeland digitally and finished as a 4K Digital Intermediate in the aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The clarity of Universal’s Blu-ray release is pristine, particularly in the rich natural beauty of the Queensland, Australia locations. Sun-drenched beaches, verdant palm trees, tropical hotels, and a straw-topped beach house visually portray a paradise on Earth. In a ceremonial scene, color virtually jumps out, with lavish costumes on the women, yellow umbrellas, and multi-colored exotic flowers everywhere. Details, such as Clooney’s neatly trimmed beard, Roberts’ hairdos, and patterns in clothing are well delineated.
The soundtrack is English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Other options include Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD High Res, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, and English Descriptive Video Service. Subtitles include English SDH, Spanish, and French. Dialogue is clear and distinct throughout. Many scenes set on the beach feature gentle waves lapping at the shore. Lorne Balfe’s score accentuates the romantic mood of the film and is used sparingly. Sound mixing of dialogue, music, and sound effects is excellent. Outboard and gas engines on boats of various sizes are the only mechanical sounds heard, other than a brief scene in which Lily is in an airport about to leave for Bali. Ambient noise is heard in a bar.
Also included in this Blu-ray and DVD combo pack from Universal Pictures is a Digital code on a paper insert. The following featurettes are included:
- Return of the Dynamic Duo (4:36)
- Destination Wedding (3:38)
- Production in Paradise (3:44)
- Keep a Straight Face (2:35)
Return of the Dynamic Duo – Director Ol Parker, stars Julia Roberts and George Clooney, and other cast members discuss the making of the film. Parker wrote the script with Roberts and Clooney in mind, wanting to capitalize on their screen chemistry and comfortable relationship that comes across on film. Behind-the-scenes footage is shown.
Destination Wedding – A traditional Balinese wedding is created in Australia locations. Director Ol Parker and supervising location manager Lauren Cooper wanted to get the Balinese culture and rituals “absolutely right.” Actor Agung Pinda served as cultural consultant. Property master Emma Ruskin describes the authenticity of props, foods, and floral arrangements.
Production in Paradise – Location scouts were sent to find the best places to film. “The most remote places were the most beautiful.” Some locations had no electricity, so crews had to set up equipment in readiness for the actors and director to arrive. A few shots of crew members working on the beaches are shown.
Keep a Straight Face – This featurette focuses on Billie Lourd and Kaitlyn Dever, who play best friends in the film. They speak in complimentary terms about each other as both friends and fellow actors, and note that it was often difficult to stop laughing during takes.
The goal of Ticket to Paradise is to revamp the romantic comedy for a modern audience. The film has the right stars in Roberts and Clooney and a perfect setting, but the screenplay is weak. The film is glossy and elegant in its photography, yet it never truly sparkles.
- Dennis Seuling