Ticket to Paradise movie review: George Clooney and Julia Roberts are real stars

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 17: George Clooney and Julia Roberts attend the premiere of Universal Pictures' "Ticket To Paradise" held at Regency Village Theatre on October 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 17: George Clooney and Julia Roberts attend the premiere of Universal Pictures' "Ticket To Paradise" held at Regency Village Theatre on October 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images) /

From the director of the cinematic masterpiece that is Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again comes Ticket to Paradise, an old-school romantic comedy featuring real stars, George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

*Spoiler alert: the following article contains mild spoilers for Ticket to Paradise*

Their on-screen collaborations peaked when they paired themselves in Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans trilogy, but Ticket to Paradise sees them enjoy their company again, as they play a divorced couple locked step into sabotaging their daughter’s (Kaitlyn Dever) marriage.

The two believe she’s going to make the same mistake they did and will do anything to ensure Lily (Dever) doesn’t marry Gede (Maxime Bouttier). From there, the usual arc of a “sabotage” rom coms ensue, as they start to grow fond of Gede when they learn more about him, and the couple start to, predictably, reconnect and figure out what went wrong in their marriage.

The movie doesn’t do anything new in terms of reinventing the wheel of romantic comedies, but it still works solely because of Clooney and Roberts’ dedication to their characters. There wasn’t a better fit to play a bitter ex-couple than Clooney and Roberts. Their chemistry light up the screen as soon as they appear together at Lily’s graduation ceremony, setting the stage for one of the funniest on-screen banters of the year.

And the laughs keep coming when they sit on the same airplane seat, swim with dolphins, or steal the rings in the hopes they will have doubts on the future of their marriage. Every scene involving Clooney and Roberts are hilarious–there’s never a dull moment when they start to bicker. It’s genuinely funny, never exaggerated, and would be the exact same reaction that someone who is forced to spend time with an ex they detest would react to.

Director Ol Parker knows that the movie wouldn’t have worked without them, and ensures they are the main points of focus, because whenever it focuses on someone else, it isn’t as fun. Kaitlyn Dever and Billie Lourd are fun to watch together as two best friends, but aren’t on the same level as when they’re paired with Clooney and Roberts, who steal the spotlight away from everyone else.

What makes Ticket to Paradise special is the chemistry between George Clooney and Julia Roberts

I will say that scenes with Roberts and Lucas Bravo’s Paul, who is Georgia’s (Roberts) current lover, are funny. Bravo seems to embrace the silliness behind his character, who consistently proposes to Georgia, but with disastrous results: he gets bit by a snake and almost succumbs to its paralyzing poison, or head butts Georgia’s nose as he gets up after the second attempt at proposing doesn’t work. Both of these scenes are hilarious, because of how fun they’re having at playing two characters who seem to be madly in love with one another, but are just consistently embarrassing themselves together.

It didn’t much help that Ticket to Paradise re-treads the same beats that every single rom-com does. As soon as it starts, we know that Georgia and David (Clooney) will somehow, against all conceivable odds, get back together. Why? Because they will learn what’s best for their daughter, and examine what went wrong in their marriage.  It’s written in the skies. Oh, look at them, arguing at everything and everywhere, blaming the others for their marital problems. It’s fun for a while, and Clooney’s snark deftly balances Roberts’ wry sense of self, but it won’t last. They’re trying to sabotage the marriage, but that also won’t last, because they’ll eventually realize that, hey, Lily and Gede were made for one another!

It looks like I’ve spoiled the plot for you all, but there are virtually no surprises if you’ve seen literally one other romantic comedy. Their plots are highly recycled, but what makes Ticket to Paradise such a special watch is the chemistry George Clooney holds with Julia Roberts. If the film was three hours long, I still wouldn’t get tired of it. They are real movie stars who understand how fun a premise like this could be if they fully commit to their characters, as recycled as the plot could be.
But that’s the beauty of this film and Parker’s previous magnum opus, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (I unironically love that movie, as unnecessary as it was). Even if we can see everything coming a mile away and are inclined to want to rip it to shreds for its predictability and uninspired structure, we can’t, because we’re having fun alongside highly talented actors who are also having fun.

It’s an amazing full -circle moment that begs to be seen in a theater with a crowd who wants to watch a perfectly average comedy elevated by two stars who haven’t aged a day from the first moment they’ve set eyes on one another in Ocean’s Eleven to the time they reunite in Ticket to Paradise. It’s as if no time has passed. And from the looks of its box office success, I’m not the only want to immediately wanted to see it as soon as it came out and would like a sequel immediately.

Ticket to Paradise is now playing in theaters everywhere. 

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