“Ticket to Paradise” and other collaborations capitalize on their onscreen glitz and stellar chemistry, as well as their offscreen affection for one another.
In Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 remake of “Ocean’s Eleven,” Julia Roberts and George Clooney’s first scene together lasts less than five minutes. Still, it’s packed with barbs and pronouncements, insults and callbacks, relitigations of ancient arguments, and (for him, at least) flashes of longing. Tess (Roberts) is the reason Danny Ocean (Clooney) has assembled the titular crew to rob three high-profile Las Vegas casinos, all of which are owned by Tess’s current beau, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). (When Danny meets Terry, he fidgets absentmindedly with his wedding ring. Or perhaps on purpose.)
The pay is substantial, but it’s secondary to Danny; as he tells her during that awkward first conversation, “I came here for you.” As a result, Danny and Tess, and thus Clooney and Roberts, must generate enough heat and chemistry beneath the snippy surface to justify the rest of the film. It’s a tall task. They accomplish it without breaking a sweat.
When Clooney and Roberts soften their rough edges or let their hair down, as they do during a drunken mystery-alcohol (not beer) pong game, “Ticket to Paradise” shines. The final outtakes display a sense of levity that the film only occasionally displays.
Clooney, as a multifaceted filmmaker as well as a star, has been adept at throwing the studios intermittent projects with overt commercial aspirations, and by collaborating with Roberts (who also appeared with him in the “Ocean’s Eleven” films), this certainly falls squarely into that basket.
However, given the current state of romantic comedy and the rise of streaming as a preferred venue for non-blockbuster films, “Ticket to Paradise” may not sell as many tickets as hoped. Those who do pay the toll, however, should mostly enjoy the ride if they bring the right attitude.
“Ticket to Paradise” hits theaters in the United States on October 21. It has a PG-13 rating.