Failure to Launch (2006)
Failure to Amuse
Everything is going along nice and smooth, we're having a good time, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, she gets serious. I hate to say it, boys, but it is time to take the girl home - Tripp
Within the first half hour of watching "Failure to Launch" you get a sense of familiarity, as if you've watched it or at least something similar before. And then you realise what it reminds you of, it has a touch of "Hitch" about it with Sarah Jessica Parker playing not a date doctor but a man-child doctor and it also has a passing resemblance to "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and not just because it features Matthew McConaughey. This combination makes "Failure to Launch" not only too familiar but also rather lame when it comes to the storyline, lacking any originality even in the choice of characters, subplots as well as comedy and romance. It is still mildly amusing in a very average way but it's far from impressive.
Tripp (Matthew McConaughey - Tow For the Money) appears to have it all a decent job, good friends and at 35 the looks which makes dating no problem at all. But Tripp still lives at home with his parents and he enjoys doing so because not only does his mum look after him but when ever he starts to get too close to a woman he takes them home and shocks them into dumping him. But Tripp's parents want him out and so hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker - The Family Stone) an attractive young woman who has expertise in duping men like Tripp into falling in love with her and then convincing them to leave home. All is going well until Paula falls in love with Tripp and to make it worse one of his friends finds out what she does.
In many ways "Failure to Launch" is an almost throw away movie that you watch once, find mildly entertaining and then forget all about. Part of the reason why, is that the storyline surrounding a man-child living too comfortably at home to leave is not so bad, it's just the way it's handled. It ends up feeling like that having got a good idea the writers then ploughed through other romantic comedies to make it work. So we have Sarah Jessica Parker playing Paula whose skill at duping men child into leaving home throws up some very obvious comparisons to "Hitch" especially that Parker plays her with such a confidence it feels wrong.
The same can be said of how the whole storyline develops and it gets to a predictable point when Paula and Tripp end up in love but then try to out smart each other. It just feels too similar to "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" despite being a completely different movie. This familiarity makes it all too obvious, in fact everything about the movie is too obvious and you know where it's all going to end not long after it starts. Plus of course it just doesn't really make sense and you question why Tripp's parents resort to hiring this man-child expert rather than just telling Tripp it's time to move on.
The subplots don't add too much either with Tripp having a group of man-child friends who are determined to stay men-child and Paula has a kooky house mate in Kit, played by Zooey Deschanel and wasted in a seriously pointless subplot revolving a mocking bird which drives her crazy with its incessant chirping. The subplots are so pointless that at times it feels like the writers have resorted to some set piece gags with Tripp coming a cropper to Dolphins, chipmunks and some sort of lizard all of which are sort of funny but ultimately daft.
There lies another issue with "Failure to Launch" it's just not funny enough. Many of the gags fall flat and the spark of comedy which should be present between Tripp and Paula never even gets going nor does the romance to be honest. It makes "Failure to Launch" a seriously lightweight romantic comedy which goes through the motions of a rom-com but never really managing to be either very funny or romantic. The funniest moments comes from the almost irrelevant such as Tripp's dad Al played by ex quarterback Terry Bradshaw showing his naked butt in his naked room, which in a way is sad because "Failure to Launch" had comedy potential but never gets past just doing the usual.
As for the performances well Matthew McConaughey is effective as Tripp the man-child who is far too comfortable living at home and Sarah Jessica Parker is adequate as the man-child doctor but there is no spark between them causing their relationship not only too feel muted but also the comedy. Elsewhere Bradley Cooper and Justin Bartha crop up as Tripp's man-child friends and the quirky Zooey Deschanel is underused as Paula's friend Kit. In fact the best performances come from Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw as Tripp's parents delivering those truly funny moments in a movie which in reality doesn't have near enough of them.
What this all boils down to is that "Failure to Launch" is no different to numerous other modern romantic comedies which go through the motions but never end up being either very funny or romantic. It all feels too familiar drawing on influences from other rom-coms and suffers from not having any genuine spark between its stars Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker. Basically it's amusing, it will make you smile but watched once "Failure to Launch" really doesn't need a second viewing.
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