Failure to Launch (2006)

Failure to Launch
Director: Tom Dey
Writer: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates, Katheryn Winnick, Patton Oswalt
Seen on: 2.8.2022

Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is in his 30s, but still living comfortably at home with his parents Al and Sue (Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates). His parents aren’t as comfortable with the arrangement, though. Since they are not the only people in their circle of friends with that issue, they hear about Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who has specialized in dating guys who still live at home, boosting their self-confidence until they’re ready to head out into the world. Al and Sue decide to hire Paula to get Tripp out of their house. But things with Tripp develop differently than Paula expected.

Failure to Launch does not work at all. Not in the ill-advised animal comedy that is peppered throughout the film, not in the romance, not even in the general idea of how things are supposed to work here. And it’s definitely not entertaining enough to make you forget about its failings.

The film poster showing Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) leaning back against Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who is pushing him forward.

I think I was mostly taken aback by the weird inclusion of animals in the film. Or rather, every 15 minutes or so the film comes to a grinding halt for a scene where one of the characters (mostly Tripp) gets bitten by an animal. I think we are supposed to laugh about this, but I really don’t see the humor. Instead, it just means that the pacing of the film is completely off.

But that’s far from the film’s only problem. The premise of guys not wanting to move out of their parents’s house, I can roll with that (although I honestly think that in real life, most of the people who don’t move out of their parents’ homes simply cannot afford it and it is not necessarily a sign of immaturity, or, as in Tripp’s case, of past trauma). But Paula’s “service” is actually pretty cruel in its deception, and not particularly cute.

Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) and Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) on a sailboat.

Tripp is also pretty cruel, but the film turns a pretty sympathetic eye on him. He certainly isn’t taken down a peg and chastised for his incredibly shitty decisions, like Paula is by the narrative. Rather, he is excused with his tragic backstory that is supposed to endear him to us. It doesn’t really work.

In fact, the film is peopled with unlikeable people, most supporting characters written in a way that is supposed to make them funny, but instead just makes them assholes. Assholes that tie friends up to make them have emotional encounters and then livestream said encounters to a bar full of strangers.

In all of this mess, there is definitely no room for romance. There is no spark between Tripp and Paula, and I really couldn’t care less whether they got to a HEA or not. Since neither the comedy, nor the romance works, the film really fails in all aspects.

Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) tied to a chair with Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) holding a note to his face.

Summarizing: just no.

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