Ticket To Paradise

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Ticket To Paradise (2022) attempts to recreate the charm of the nineties romantic comedy firstly by casting Julia Roberts and George Clooney in the lead roles, then by combining the mid-life crisis tropes of Father Of The Bride (1991) with the “fish out of water” humor of My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). Ticket To Paradise falls into the same trap that almost all contemporary romantic comedies looking to cash-in on audiences’ nostalgia for the films of Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Mike Nichols, and James L. Brooks which is to ignore its own contemporary moment.

The thing that made films like Father Of The Bride and You’ve Got Mail (1998) such enduring popular hits is that they combine the wit and charm of the classic Hollywood romantic comedies of Mitchell Leisen and Frank Borzage with their own cultural moment. This could be as simple as updating the technology or as subtly complex as imbuing a traditionally misogynist plot with a feminist reading or sensibility. What these films that audiences have an intense nostalgia for did was to re-imagine the genre by stripping it down to its fundamental traits and then re-building it for the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

But Ticket To Paradise does no such thing. Rather than look back to the films of the thirties and forties that have endured and distilling them to their essential qualities, the filmmakers of Ticket To Paradise return to the films of the nineties only to copy and paste the things they like; re-arranging these tropes and conventions like pieces of a puzzle. Yes, they may add in some more politically correct attitudes, but for the most part Ticket To Paradise plays like a heartless greatest hits culled from better, more enjoyable movies that isn’t at all relevant with audiences today. People return, again and again, to films like You’ve Got Mail despite some of the problematic narrative features because there is an emotional truth to the film that can only come from the filmmakers going all the way back to Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges for inspiration.

Romantic comedies are like horror films in that no modern iteration of the genre can exist successfully without bearing the mark of the masters from the thirties. The innate charisma of Julia Roberts and George Clooney can only do so much before the emptiness beneath their charms becomes evident, dispelling the illusion that these are characters worthy of empathy. Ticket To Paradise depends too much on its stars and not enough on the legacy so obviously inherent to its genre.