Woke-Free ‘Ticket to Paradise’ Brings Rom-Coms Back from the Abyss

Google “the rom-com is dead” and you’ll find a crush of think pieces bemoaning the genre’s fall.

You don’t have to be a film journalist to realize rom-coms no longer rule the cineplex. The days of Hanks and Ryan are long gone, and even rom-com veterans like Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey have moved on.

So has Hollywood, for the most part, relegating most of them to streaming platforms.

“Ticket to Paradise” could change that thinking.

The George Clooney/Julia Roberts pairing opened strong Oct. 21 ($16.5 million) and has shown remarkable legs ever since. The story follows a divorced couple (Roberts and Clooney) reuniting to stop their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) from impulsively marrying a seaweed farmer (Maxime Bouttier).

The rom-com fell just 25 percent over the weekend, continuing a series of strong holds against formidable competition like “Black Adam” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

Why?

Look at the poster. It’s Clooney and Roberts, ageless and in-your-face. Their collective star power is the film’s visual selling point.

The movie itself is smart, funny and unabashedly romantic. What youngster hasn’t fallen in love, hard, at a time in their life when it made little sense to do so? And who hasn’t looked back at an old flame and wondered, “what if?”

The story hangs on a gimmick — can a divorced couple stop squabbling long enough to break up their daughter’s wedding — but it’s still a relatable premise. Parents routinely worry their son or daughter has chosen a mate who might not be perfect for them.

Compare that to “Marry Me,” the 2022 rom-com which dramatically under-performed at the box office. The film’s premise is so dumb it would make Lloyd Christmas blush.

A pop superstar’s public marriage ceremony collapses, so she impulsively picks an adult male fan out of the crowd and marries him instead.

If we had a nickel for every time that happened to us …

“Ticket to Paradise” offers beautiful stars, romance and not a whiff of woke nonsense. No lectures. No ham-fisted scenes to check off a diversity box.

It’s an old-school, uplifting rom-com, and audiences are eating it up.

RELATED: CAN MEG RYAN REVIVE THE ROM COM?

There’s an interesting wrinkle to “Ticket’s” success story. The film’s current haul, $56 million stateside and counting, is under its reported $60 million budget. Did Clooney and Roberts demand huge salaries, ballooning the film’s bottom line?

Or was the Bali setting (actually it’s Australia) set the producers back a pretty penny? The film’s official trailer on YouTube suggests tax incentives lightened the financial load:

Ticket to Paradise is filmed on location in Queensland, Australia, aided by incentives from the Australian federal government and from Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy.

Either way, for all the golden word of mouth “Ticket” might be a technical failure without its international grosses. Good thing the rom-com is crushing it overseas, streaking toward the $100 million mark.

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