Before getting into this review in earnest, I should be charitable myself. I wanted to start by saying that I am getting old. No longer do I go to the theater on a whim and decide to see whatever is playing next. My careful choices involve booking my seat online, which indicates forethought. This is when my first surprise in the run-up to seeing Ticket to Paradise occurred. I was lucky to get one of the last unclaimed spots behind the dreaded front rows, a situation I would not have expected. I guess people really like their George Clooney and/or Julia Roberts flicks. Surprise number two came when I entered the theater and found an auditorium full of middle aged and elderly people. Now, I know I said I would be charitable to myself, and that comes from seeing the handful of kids I saw, undoubtedly being dragged there by their parents. With them, the median age of the room was lowered ever so slightly. Still, I enjoyed the older people I sat next to as they fumbled through the unfamiliar setting of the cineplex. Yes, Gladys, this is what popcorn containers look like these days.
As hinted at above, Ticket to Paradise features George Clooney and Julia Roberts as David and Georgia Cotton. He is a big time Chicago architect and she is an art dealer. Not only are their careers separate, but so are they. The one thing that they have in common is a love for their daughter, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), but they still obviously compete for her affections. As such, Lily is not looking forward to having the two of them at her graduation from law school because it means they will be sitting next to each other during the ceremony, bickering the whole time. On the heels of her matriculation, Lily and her best friend, Wren Butler (Billie Lourd), head to Bali to celebrate. They have the time of their lives, perhaps too much of a good time to David and Georgia. One day while snorkeling, Lily and Wren are separated from their boat. They are rescued by the eligible and handsome local Gede (Maxime Bouttier). It is classic love at first sight, and weeks later Lily is sending an email to her parents informing them that she is staying in Bali and marrying Gede. David and Georgia are invited to the wedding, but they decide to put aside their usual sniping in order to try and stop this marriage, citing it as being in Lily’s best interest. Unsurprisingly, Lily guesses this might be their intent, though the parents agree to play along until the right opportunity presents itself. David takes his first chance when at the engagement party he is able to take Gede aside to have a chat. David thinks he is planting the seed of doubt by saying that this relationship will not last due to Lily’s commitment to being a lawyer, but Gede sees it for what it is: a clumsy attempt to break up the couple. The next day, Georgia has her window opened when she is able to steal the rings before they can be presented (apparently, rings are exchanged before the wedding in Bali, but whatever). Yet again, Gede suspects the truth, and he finds a way around this potential pitfall. Later that evening, the Cottons, along with Gede and Wren, go out to a local watering hole. Wanting to exact a little revenge for what David and Georgia had been putting them through, Gede challenges the parents to a game of beer pong. However, instead of the typical beverage, they play with a potent local liquor that gets everyone involved pretty hammered. What had been inching towards a thawing of relations between David and Georgia, with the lubrication of the previous night, turns into them waking up in bed together the next morning. This is complicated for Georgia as her much younger, and far too eager to please, boyfriend Paul (Lucas Bravo), arrives to be her date for the wedding. It gets more tangled when on an excursion to a temple that David discovers is supposed to be a curse for unwed couples to visit, Paul gets bitten by a snake while trying to propose. Though Georgia initially stays with him in the hospital, she eventually leaves him there to join David, Gede, and Lily to watch the sunset at a particularly picturesque spot on a nearby island. Unfortunately, David does not tie their boat properly, and it ends up floating away with the tide. While trying to build a fire for the night, Lily discovers the rings in Georgia’s purse, and that Gede had suspected what her parents were trying to do. She is not happy. While her and Gede patch things up, David and Georgia reconcile some more, realizing that their daughter is happy here, and that they had once been happy, too. They are found the following morning, which is good because that is when the wedding is supposed to happen. Putting their best foot forward, they give their blessing to the union at the right moment, and everything is made right between daughter, son-in-law, and parents. And with Georgia telling Paul that she will not be marrying him, the door is now open for them to be re-united. We know this to be the case because the final shot is of David and Georgia jumping hand-in-hand off the ferry to take them home, foregoing their lives in the United States and following in the footsteps of their daughter.
Ticket to Paradise is a romantic comedy with all the expected beats. Please read expected as predictable. The only thing I would have done differently is to have David and Georgia build their dream house in Chicago. Then again, I am a native of the Windy City. I am not saying that this is a bad movie, it is just painfully obvious. This brings me back to the overly large audience that sat through the same film that Friday night in Seminole, Florida. Are people truly that big of fans of George Clooney and Julia Roberts that they would pack the theater to see anything in which they appear? I mean, I like the Oceans trilogy as much as the next person, but this seemed excessive. This, too, is not a complaint. I like to see full cinemas. It adds a certain thrill to the proceedings. At the same time, this is not exactly what I would call a thrilling motion picture. It is the type of audience I would have expected for Black Adam (sans the pensioners), also opening this weekend. I will let Cameron tell you all about that one. It all points to one clichéd but immutable truth: there is no accounting for taste.
There are other supposedly immutable truths proposed in Ticket to Paradise. As this is the portion of my review that I lean into my Catholic beliefs (though I hope you get a sense of my Faith throughout), you might think I will be tearing into the Balian religious customs on display here. I am no expert on their beliefs, but I will say there are some interesting parallels. One of the aspects discussed here is a harmony between nature, god, and people. You will note the three pillars. When Catholic missionaries went out across the globe to convert native peoples to the true Faith, using things like the Holy Trinity, they observed such things and used them as a tool for conversion. A cynical person might say that doing so means the destruction of one culture in favor of another. To me, this sentiment belies a latent atheism amongst such critics. Either God is real and working through everyone, or it is all a load of crap. I believe the former. The only thing is that Jesus appeared in one place, at one time, and then sent His followers to do the rest of the work for Him. Until Scripture is proclaimed to everyone, you can hardly blame those who have no knowledge of such things to go in their own directions. This is the stance of the Catholic Church, by the way. This is a long way of saying, yet again, that the Church is not as condemnatory as stereotypes would lead you to believe. To be clear, you should adhere to its teachings. In the end, God will always judge us in this way, but also on the content of our characters. Being a Catholic is sort of like having a cheat sheet for getting into heaven.
There were some other moments in Ticket to Paradise that warmed this Catholic’s heart. The first night that Gede and Lily spend together seemingly did not involve sex. The same can be said for David and Georgia when they wake up next to each other. What this Catholic as not so fond of is when Wren hands Lily a stack of condoms at the end of the movie, stating she is not ready for them to have kids. Regardless of my beliefs, it is not for her to decide. On the whole, it is a perfectly acceptable film to watch, though you will not be surprised by much of anything that happens.