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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TWO TICKETS TO PARADISE -- movie review by porfle

(NOTE: This review originally appeared  online in 2006 at

Three past-their-prime blue collar shlubs on a roadtrip from Pittsburgh to Florida "find themselves" and discover what's really important in their lives in the comedy-drama TWO TICKETS TO PARADISE (2006), which was originally titled "Dirt Nap."  Their experiences during this life-changing journey are sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and sometimes bland and pointless.  This adds up to an affable guy movie that I neither loved nor hated, but kind of liked enough to not rip it out of my DVD player and shove it into the garbage disposal.

The cast is likable enough.  D.B. Sweeney, who played "Dish" Boggett in LONESOME DOVE and Travis Walton in FIRE IN THE SKY, is a washed-up former musician named Billy who drives a beer truck and is happy enough with his current circumstances until he walks in on his wife getting boffed by another guy.  His friend Mark has a wife, a kid, and a really bad gambling addiction that causes big, mean guys to threaten him with bodily harm.  He's played by one of my favorite actors, John C. McGinley, who was the "SWAT before dicks" guy in SE7EN and the weaselly sergeant who was always sucking up to Tom Berenger's character in PLATOON.  Billy's other friend, Jason (Paul Hipp), is a nerdy, happily single computer store salesman who just won two tickets to a big championship football game in Florida, which, incidentally, Mark has a bundle of money riding on. 

Since Billy is quits with his wife, Mark is being hunted by big, mean guys, and Jason doesn't have anything better to do, they all pile into Mark's car and head for Florida.  Much of the movie consists of their mildly entertaining adventures during the trip, such as accidentally burning down Vanna White's birthplace, tripping out on magic mushrooms, stopping to take a whiz in the dark of night and finding themselves surrounded by alligators, and unsuccessfully faking their own deaths. 

Their numerous philosophical and pop culture discussions consist of the kind of blather Quentin Tarantino might write if he had a spear sticking through his head.  Of course, we get the usual road-trip cliches like who gets to ride shotgun or pick the radio station.  But the closer they get to Florida, the less important the big game becomes as their interpersonal relationships implode and they begin to regard themselves as losers who have utterly failed to live up to their potential in life.

Thank goodness the more serious stuff is handled by such good actors and is fairly well-written.  McGinley and Sweeney in particular are very adept at this sort of thing and manage to give some depth to their characters, while Paul Hipp balances it all out as the less screwed-up character who has to endure their agonized dramatics. Thankfully, the scenes we're supposed to think are funny actually do prove amusing at times without descending into raucous slapstick, although little of it is memorably laugh-provoking or particularly imaginative.
Everything comes to a head when they finally get to Florida--one of them stumbles into an unexpected romance, another finally wakes up and gets his priorities straight, and the third ends up in the hospital with a cracked skull.  First-time director and co-writer Sweeney manages to get all of this on film pretty efficiently, with a good supporting cast including Pat Hingle, AMERICAN ANTHEM's Janet Jones, Moira Kelly, Rex Linn, Mark Moses, M.C. Gainey, and, in a brief cameo, Ed Harris as a one-armed carnival worker who teaches the guys a valuable lesson about lions and tigers. 

With this competent directing debut under his belt, D.B. Sweeney can hopefully move on to better things.  Meanwhile, TWO TICKETS TO PARADISE isn't likely to make a huge impression on anyone besides the usual hyper-excitable film festival attendees, but at least it's worth watching if you keep your expectations reasonably low.  And it might also help if you take a cue from our heroes and stock up on plenty of beer for the trip.

Buy it at

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