Directed by D. B. Sweeny
“The film festival favorite boasts an all-star cast including John C. McGinley (“Scrubs”), Moira Kelly (“One Tree Hill”), Ed Harris (“Gone Baby Gone”) and Sweeney (“Jericho”) in a comical look at old friends and new beginnings. Unfortunately for Mark (McGinley), McGriff (Sweeney) and Jason (Paul Hipp, “Waking the Dead”), their best years seem to have been back in high school when the world saw them as a star athlete, a rock god and a genius. Twenty years later they can’t catch a break. Until they score two tickets for the biggest game of the year: The College Football Championship Bowl. Seeing it as their chance to break out and hit re-set, the guys take a road trip to Florida. But will their friendship survive hungry alligators, barroom losers and the most challenging obstacle of all: each other? Garnering numerous awards during its festival run, “Two Tickets to Paradise” also marks the on-screen reunion of Sweeney and Kelly, who starred in the contemporary classic “The Cutting Edge.”
“Two Tickets to Paradise” is rated R for language including crude sexual references, and some drug use.
The film has a bit of trouble finding the right tone. At times you think it’s trying to be a wacky comedy. We see strippers dizzily fall off of platforms, fart jokes, Vanna White’s childhood home burn down, and other lowbrow humor. But at other times there are sappy emotional scenes, dramatic moments where the characters confront each other, and thoughts of suicide. It is possible to mix comedy and drama, but it doesn’t work all that well here.
“Two Tickets to Paradise” starts out promising enough as the three lead characters have their lives slowly spin out of control. When Jason wins tickets to a championship bowl game, they decide to take a road trip to get away from it all. At this point I was still on board with the story. But as they drive to Florida, the guys get high on mushrooms, lament their lot in life, and ultimately become suicidal. This is where things fall apart. I’m all for a good road trip movie, but the events that happen to our characters are not all that entertaining. And despite all their troubles, their plan for suicide is a bit hard to buy, even if they are high. The movie ends on a rather unsatisfying yet predictable note.
I’d only recommend “Two Tickets to Paradise” to big fans of Sweeney or McGinley. I’m not sure anyone else will be that into it. It may be worth watching if it appears on TV, but it’s not one I’d recommend buying.
You’ll find a modest selection of bonus features on the DVD. There’s a director’s commentary, 5 deleted scenes, and outtakes.