Film Review: Failure To Launch

Posted in Reviews on April, 15 2006 10:57 PM

Failure to LaunchStarring: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Kathy Bates
Cert: 12A
Released: 31st March 2006

Tripp (McConaughey) is a mid-thirties bachelor who is still enjoying all the fun things in life. He's got a good job, he has an active and healthy social life and he likes dating. He's strictly monogamous but for some reason, just at the time when the girl starts getting serious, the relationship breaks up.

Usually she will give him 'that look' and then he'll invite her back to his place (for the first time) then she discovers he still lives at home with his parents and thinks he's some sort of freak.

Why does he still live at home? Because his mum (Bates) still does everything for him and he has an easy life. Not only that but his two best friends also still reside with their parents: Ace is a computer nerd and Demo is a globetrotting dropout.

Then Tripp's parents hear about Paula (Parker) who is a professional motivator. She romances men to build their confidence and help them finally grow their wings to fly the coop.

As Paula progresses with Tripp as her new project, things stop going as planned. As stated, he's not the usual, run-of-the-mill stay at home men she's used to and she starts to fall for him. How can she stay focussed on the job when her professionalism is being threatened by emotions? Yet how can she possibly come clean to him without him feeling used and betrayed?

Straight away it just reads like a reverse of Hitch - female gets employed to split people up instead of put them together - but then the storyline follows much of the same path.

However, that isn't so much of a bad thing sometimes, you know? The predictability of it can be excused when there's a pretty decent cast structure and a few original elements around.

McConaughey and Parker perform well, they have good chemistry and (more importantly) they look good.

Although McConaughey is given a pretty good array of physical humour set pieces (all of nature is against him) but the majority of the laughs (and the entire film's saving grace) is Zooey Deschanel (Trillian from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy) as Paula's emotionally vacuous flatmate, Kit. Delivering every line with stoic dryness (and often insobriety) and her 'don't give a damn' attitude sets her out above the crowd of run-of-the-mill rom-com characters. Sure, the character is a well-worn device (quirky friend of sensible, successful lead) but she still livens up the story every time she's on.

And, as is the way with most rom-coms these days, all the other supporting protagonists are the ones with more 'interesting' characteristics. All of who help the progression of the film without causing much distraction or weighing it down with trivialities.

Another plus point is the presence of Kathy Bates as Tripp's mother. Having proved herself a thousand times over she can act the socks off any role she adds the reality factor. Pouring such sentiment into a relatively small part as she is torn between wanting her own life, not wanting to turn her son out but also being afraid of starting again with her recently retired husband (Terry Bradshaw).

Not usually one for the date film, I found myself enjoying the amiable cast and thinking-free story but perhaps that also had something to do with all the really bad films I've sat through recently. My expectations might have dropped somewhat.



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