Failure to Launch
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Tom Dey
scr Tom J Astle, Matt Ember
with Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Kathy Bates, Terry Bradshaw, Tyrell Jackson Williams, Katheryn Winnick, Johnny Rock, Aubrey Dollar, Adam Alexi-Malle
release US 10.Mar.06,
UK 31.Mar.06
US/06 Paramount 1h37

Sail into the sunset: McConaughey and Parker

deschanel bartha bates

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Failure to Launch Lively and enjoyable but nothing remotely special--this could be just about any romantic comedy ever made, complete with a contrived premise and a bright cast to distract us from the same old formula.

Tripp (McConaughey) is a 35-year-old still living at home, and his parents (Bates and Bradshaw) have had enough. So they hire the "facilitator" Paula (Parker) to pretend to be his girlfriend and lure him into independence. Of course, love blossoms in unexpected places, and suddenly Paula has a crisis on her hands. Which gets rather perilous when Tripp's buddies (Bartha and Cooper) find out what's up.

Sure, it's watchable, with the occasional funny moment and the standard manipulative plot that still manages to generate a few moments of enjoyable emotion. But it's such a weak script that the film is difficult to like. The three central men are complete losers, and that has nothing to do with the fact that they live with their parents; they're all macho morons who leer at woman and indulge in the manliest of manly activities, then turn adorably dumb so they can get the girl. And there's a lame subplot involving a mockingbird, which the writers just abandon halfway through.

The performances are at least full of life, making the most of the each character's specific eccentricities. McConaughey and Parker fare the worse in this sense, because Tripp and Paula are the least quirky people here. They're the ones who can't ruffle the tired plot. Around them, Bates and Bradshaw have the most gleefully insane roles, while Bartha and Deschanel (as Paula's offbeat flatmate) get their own goofy plotline. Cooper is so hyperactively smiley that you fear his sparkly blue eyes might explode at any moment.

In the end, it's Parker who saves the film. She's good enough to actually make us believe she finds Tripp even remotely charming, and we're willing to go along with her. Dey directs it in that energetic but bland Hollywood by-the-numbers way that keeps it just this side of ludicrous. So the forced, predictable climax almost comes across as rather sweet.

cert 12 themes, language, sexuality 6.Mar.06

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Wendy, Canada: 1/5 "Sometimes you just want to see a light-hearted romantic comedy - but this isn't one. With not-so-great acting and really bad lines, this is just a cheesy, dull attempt at romantic comedy - one of the worst ones I've ever seen." (20.Sep.06)

2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall