By: Russ Matthews
George Clooney and Julia Roberts have been among cinema’s biggest box office drawcards over the past few decades.
While their recent career options have been relegated to commercials, humanitarian work, and enjoying the fruits of their celebrated careers, to get them back together on screen would take the right project at the right time, and the circumstances seem right with Ticket to Paradise.
To add to the stress of graduating from law school, Lilly (Kaitlyn Dever) has to deal with her parents coming to the ceremony. David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) divorced years before. Still, their marriage did not end amicably, and their daughter was caught in the crossfire.
Even though they love Lily, their hatred for one another leads to more embarrassment for their child. This might explain why she chooses to holiday in Bali with her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) soon after finishing at the University of Chicago.
As the pair unwind in the ocean and enjoy the island lifestyle before entering the workforce and real life, something unexpected occurs. Lily finds herself in the arms of Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a native to the indigenous community and a successful businessman.
When their relationship leads to a proposal of marriage, David and Georgia both head to the tropical paradise to break up the young couple. They must overcome the charm of Gede’s family and have to be unified in their purposes. If they take Lily back with them, they may have to find common ground they had not been on in years.
The realm of romantic comedies used to be owned by Julia Roberts for years, but can George Clooney keep up within this genre? As they play on their evident fondness for one another that stretches back years to the Ocean’s 11 franchise, these two still have some magic.
Despite the pedestrian screenplay that walks a familiar path for this type of film, these two screen legends do all they can to carry things through to the inevitable conclusion. Although both Academy Award winners prove to be a bit much for this script at times as they deliver some stunning scenes that seem to be from another film. Clooney’s confessional scene at the local bar proves that the actor has more in him and should be making more movies. If anything, they look like they are having fun, which should translate to audiences, too.
Director Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) did a masterful job of transforming Queensland into an island paradise due to COVID restrictions in Bali. Still, it all seems a bit too pristine to be entirely believable, but no one is looking for reality in rom-coms.
This can be said of Kaitlyn Dever, the most fair-skinned actress to live in Indonesia and never burns or tans. Yet, the young actress does an admirable job of keeping up with two of the biggest stars in Hollywood playing her parents. This can be said of most of the cast, except the bizarre love interest of Robert’s character. A necessary addition for comic relief, but none of it seemed believable from the introduction of the French pilot.
Ticket to Paradise is what it is, a standard rom-com with some big names attached. It was not the worst or best for Clooney and Roberts, but it was a ‘nice’ option for this quiet season in the cinemas. On par with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum’s The Lost City without the Brad Pitt cameo to get it over the line.
One thing that stands out about this screenplay is the deep seeded bitterness between the lead characters. Years and years of anger and hurt feelings led to a seemingly unfixable relationship. So, what is the cure for bitterness? The answer can be found in a word that might be a bitter pill to swallow, forgiveness.
Bitterness comes from focusing on what has been done to you. To break the bitterness cycle in your life, you must do some healthy self-evaluation and consider what you have done to others. This first step will help you to see your responsibility in the matter that may have caused the tension in your situation. Then do something that will not be easy, but go to those you have hurt or have hurt you, and first seek their forgiveness or forgive them for what they have done to you.
The examination process begins with you. Start with yourself and seek God’s help in revealing the contents of your heart concerning how you have sinned against others or how they have sinned against you. Then ask for his help in finding the strength to fix the damage that has occurred in your life.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. – Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All Images: Movie Publicity
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.