FAILURE TO LAUNCH

 

Review by Mark Walters

 

Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is a thirty-something bachelor who has just about everything going for him.  He's charming, has great looks, and is pretty darn good with the ladies.  His life is almost perfect, except for the fact he still lives with his parents.  This one glaring fault pretty much keeps him from ever having a lengthy relationship.  But Trip and his buddies Demo (Bradley Cooper) and Ace (Justin Bartha) seem to be enjoying this lifestyle, especially since it helps them avoid unwanted commitment.  However Trip's dad Al (Terry Bradshaw) and mother Sue (Kathy Bates) secretly wish their son would get serious about things and find his way out of the family home.  They're prayers may be answered when they find Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), a woman who apparently specializes in getting men like Trip to move out of their parents house.  These two hit it off fast, and in many ways she appears to be the perfect girl for him.  Just when she thinks he's a done deal, Trip decides that Paula is getting too close, and hopes his one glaring fault will be enough to make her leave.  Now her mission has become unusually more difficult, and both of them find things a bit more complicated than either one of them wished.

 This movie reminded me a lot of WEDDING CRASHERS, though only marginally similar in plot.  While Paula's job seems at first like a positive thing, she's ultimately deceiving her victims, and one must wonder when it will blow up in her face.  Trip and his buddies are not unlike the heroes of CRASHERS, especially in the sense that they too are using their lifestyles to get what they want out of women without the danger of a longterm relationship.  It's a vicious cycle, and sooner or later everything has to come to a head.  Initially this film feels like a standard chick flick, but there were surprisingly quite a few guy-friendly moments to keep the dragged-along dates from cringing too much... at least for the first hour.  McConaughey is pretty solid in the lead, playing that handsome likable fellow we're used to seeing him do, and still being shrewd enough to mix things up a bit.  Taking a step back from it all, you have to find it somewhat irritating that a guy like this is still living with mom and dad at his age, which makes you want to root for Paula just a little.  Parker looks pretty comfortable in her role as well, though there was something a little off with the chemistry between her and the other actors.  Not sure exactly what it was, but she almost doesn't fit here.  Terry Bradshaw and Kathy Bates are particularly endearing as Trip's parents.  Of course Bates can do these types of roles in her sleep, but I was impressed with Bradshaw's ability to hold his own right beside her.  They have some genuinely funny moments, and in many ways add a needed touch to an otherwise simple plot.  Bradley Cooper (who you'll remember from WEDDING CRASHERS) and Justin Bartha are also fun as Trip's loser buddies.  None of these guys are as smooth as they pretend to be, and that's what makes them so likable.  Zooey Deschanel practically upstages Parker playing her best friend and roommate, who is quick to give advice, though her own life is anything but perfect.  While these two actresses complemented each other's characters, it was a little hard to buy into such opposites being friends.  One subplot involving a black boy named Jeffrey (Tyrell Jackson Williams) who hangs out with Trip felt really tacked on and just plain unnecessary to the story.  There are some genuinely hilarious moments throughout the first half, making things look very promising, but the second half really plodded along.  Much of the comedy fizzles out late in the film, and becomes downright forced toward the end.  I just can't believe the idea of these two honestly ending up together, regardless of how it serves the story.

The film is directed by Tom Dey, who previously helmed the enjoyable SHANGHAI NOON with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson, and the disappointing SHOWTIME with Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy.  This film is like a hybrid of those two films' effects, in that it starts off as a fun and entertaining comedy, and devolves into a mundane love story.  The "resolve this conflict while the world watches" ending was enough to make me sick.  I know most romantic comedy lovers won't mind that sort of thing, but it was so over the top I couldn't help but be upset.  Overall the movie isn't terrible, but far from being great.  If the second half had been a bit more cohesive (like the first half) the end result could've been worthwhile.  Instead we've got something formulaic with lots of potential.  FAILURE TO LAUNCH is only moderately enjoyable, so go in with low expectations and you might have fun.  If Hollywood continues to make romantic comedies, I hope they'll work just a little bit harder on the scripts.

BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best, I give FAILURE TO LAUNCH a 5.


Visit the official Paramount Pictures FAILURE TO LAUNCH movie website by clicking here.


Failure To Launch
Failure To Launch
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