FAILURE TO LAUNCH
** (out of 5)
March 10, 2006
Matthew McConaughey as TRIP
Sarah Jessica Parker as PAULA
Zooey Deschanel as KIT
Justin Bartha as ACE
Bradley Cooper as DEMO
Terry Bradshaw as AL
Kathy Bates as SUE
Directed by: Tom Dey
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I am constantly flummoxed by how clueless Hollywood can be at times. They want something new and different, but they want it to be tried and true to prove it can make money. It’s a land of formulas, but they always seem to screw it up.
The simplest formula in cinema today is the romantic comedy. It’s worked for generations, and it will continue to work into the future. It is one of the few formulas that the fans don’t demand to keep changing. Yet Hollywood still manages to drop the ball.
Hollywood seems to think that all you have to do is put two bankable star names in a film, and the movie will write itself. However, they constantly focus on “stars” that really aren’t stars in their own right. Sarah Jessica Parker is a decent actor, and she’s done some great work. But she’s not really a draw outside of old “Sex in the City” reruns.
While Matthew McConaughey is easy on the eyes, he’s never been a great lead. If he were, then movies like “Two for the Money,” “Sahara” and “Reign of Fire” would have been great movies. Instead, he seems to be turning into the Kevin Costner of a new generation – a leading actor that is good looking and somewhat likeable but always manages to do sub-par films. Even his romantic comedies like “The Wedding Planner” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” are notoriously tepid.
Being fortunate enough to see most movies early, I often see films without really knowing what they’re about. Usually you can glean something from the poster, but even I couldn’t tell what “Failure to Launch” was about from just that. The marketing of the film is weak, and it’s poster tells me nothing more than it’s a romantic comedy with lukewarm actors.
The writing in the film wasn’t that bad. It was about half-and-half. The only problem was that the half that worked was rarely about the main characters. A good romantic comedy relies almost entirely on its lead actors. When the best scenes of the movie are unrelated to the overall plot and involve the supporting cast, that’s a problem.
While I found myself irritated and annoyed with Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, I loved Zooey Deshanel and Justin Bartha as their friends. If only the movie was about them instead. Unfortunately, their parts were superfluous to the story and really should have been removed from the final cut. However, to do this not only would have yielded a 40-minute film, it would have taken all the best parts out.
“Failure to Launch” tells the story of a man in his mid-30s who won’t move out of his parents’ home, so his folks hire a “professional interventionist” to lure him away. The only problem is they really start to fall in love. But this film was wildly miscast. I just don’t buy McConaughey as a thirtysomething loser. His raging ego was so out of control on this movie that he couldn’t bring himself to be anything but the supersexy guy you’ve seen before. He didn’t even try.
Maybe this was because the director wanted to cash in on McConaughey’s sex symbol status. And it works to that very limited degree. McConaughey is delicious eye candy for the women, but seeing Terry Bradshaw’s lumpy bare butt cheeks is like finding that booger-flavored jelly bean in your bag of Bertie Botts.