The Return of the Big Studio Rom-Com, Roberts and Clooney’s Care

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It’s been over 20 long and sad years since julia robert last starred in a rom-com — and it often feels like it’s been almost as long since anyone’s done a good one. Something so easy to enjoy is so hard to do right – like, you might say, all the most precious relationships in this desolate world – and what a miracle for a modern pioneer of the genre to still have the grace to do so. revive with “ticket to paradise.”

That’s not to say all hope is lost without Roberts, but it’s so hard these days to be optimistic about pure, sweet, quirky, serious escapism. Roberts sells it. In a digital age defined by broken brains who have spent too much time on the internet tearing down anything that tries to be nice, romance is almost always undermined by some sort of self-consciousness or cynicism to prove you can’t be as naive as to buy this really sweet thing – or, heaven forbid, it swings too far the other way and you’re dragging yourself in molasses for days.

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The only person beyond Roberts who could be trusted to do a good, real, brave rom-com like they did before is the one man who, in cinematic terms, really moved mountains. This man, of course, is Ol Parker.

Many have argued that rom-coms are entirely dependent on the chemistry of their central pairings, and “Ticket to Paradise” is certainly blessed with that kind of pairing, as Roberts plays high-flying art expert Georgia, alongside from the actress’s longtime friend and co-star George Clooney as her ex-husband, the stubbornly enigmatic David (It’s a bit of a joke at this point to say that Roberts and Clooney are still among the best actors of their generation, but it’s just nice to confirm that it’s true in a way that can only truly be understood by this strange alchemical feeling that suddenly invades your tear ducts, against all odds.)

But such blinding star power is often misused, fueling winking nostalgia and self-referential ego as a triumph in itself, opposed to letting these fine actors simply do the work that got them to this point. And Parker, as the filmmaker’s magnum opus “Mamma Mia!” Here We Go Again” has proven, is one of the few active filmmakers today capable of doing so.

Meryl Streep has famously said throughout her career that she would never do a sequel, and yet Parker convinced her to return to the ABBA valentine franchise as a ghost version of her character, magnanimous Donna Sheridan, from the first film. This sequel is one of the most outlandish, heartfelt, weird and entertaining romantic comedies since, well, probably something like “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” It’s original writing that uses just a handful of ABBA lyrics to create a far-fetched, yet completely magnetic story of motherhood and romance on an exotic island where anything seems possible and no movement of dancing isn’t too embarrassing.

Like this film, “Ticket to Paradise”, miraculously, has it all. It could never have been done by anyone else.

The film sees Georgia and David reluctantly travel halfway around the world together to stop their beloved daughter Lily (the always impressive but low-key Kaitlyn Dever), who is hopelessly in love with Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a young farmer from seaweed she just encountered in Bali. , for making the same mistake they think they made when they got married 25 years prior. It’s about caring for those you love, learning to forgive yourself, and embracing the completely terrifying notion of letting yourself be happy for a minute, even though there’s no guarantee of how long. it will last.

Much of the charm of “Ticket to Paradise” comes from knowing exactly how this story will end – what would a good rom-com be without a guaranteed happy ending? — without being totally sure of the route to get there, because of the originality of the scenario. Not so much in quippy improvisational dialogue (which Clooney almost certainly prides himself on having made up) or in adorably familiar jokes (although there were countless drunken dance scenes meant to ridicule anyone over 30 , it’s always so boring when these guys do it), but in all the painstaking detail that comes with letting such a talented group of storytellers bring their own romantic wisdom and faith to another fictional role model.

It’s Parker’s way of knowing exactly when to give Roberts and Clooney their own individual close-ups, without the need for fanfare or irony, or too many set pieces to remind you that it’s good money. spent. It’s when Roberts’ impeccably tailored wardrobe has been given so much care to draw a smart, sharp woman with two decades of regret, guilt and self-preservation that everything can be understood in how a jumpsuit in jean is cut on his shoulders. It’s the fact that there’s just a line in this movie about age, because “Ticket to Paradise” is much more concerned with the unique pleasures of the here and now, rather than dwelling on what might have been or what once was.

While the golden age of romantic comedy may be behind us, the greatest joy of “Ticket to Paradise” comes from the unwavering belief that a happy future is still possible. Some of these may seem mundane in a month, a year, a decade, but that confidence in fleeting happiness as something worth jumping into algae-laden waters is a breath of fresh air. It tells overachieving students and hopelessly impressive girls like Lily that their lives won’t end if their careers end. He tells embittered divorcees like Georgia and David that even after it all burns down, you can still rebuild.

He tells a weary, sad audience that the film’s overblown notion of “feel good” isn’t dead after all – that there really is a very good ticket out of here, and right now.

Grade: B+

Universal Pictures will release “Ticket to Paradise” in theaters on Friday, October 21.

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