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The Independent Critic

Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew McConaughey, Kathy Bates
Tom Dey
Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Rated PG-13
97 Mins.
 "Failure to Launch" Review 
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"Failure to Launch" is the perfect film for you if any of the following scenarios are true:

1) You've been waiting to see Kathy Bates in an unlikable role (No, "Misery" doesn't count).

2) You've had a lifelong desire to see NFL great Terry Bradshaw's butt-cheeks.

3) You think repeated camera shots of someone being bitten by an animal is a shining example of physical comedy.

If you fit into one of the above three scenarios, then by all means rush out to your local theatre immediately to see "Failure to Launch." If you are like the remaining 99.5% of human beings, then consider this your warning to avoid this alleged romantic comedy at all costs.

"Failure to Launch" stars Matthew McConaughey as Tripp, a 35-year-old who still lives at home with a mother (Kathy Bates) who dotes on him and allows him to avoid anything resembling a household chore. She and her husband (Terry Bradshaw) decide it's time for their son to move out and hire an interventionist, Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), to move out.

What's an interventionist? An interventionist, in this case, is a woman who gets men to fall for her (without that unethical sex, of course). They assert their independence by moving out and everyone is happy.

Admit it.

When you saw the posters for "Failure to Launch," you automatically groaned. Even the posters look forced, and the trailers have been uncomfortable at best. Even the title, "Failure to Launch," is hilariously bad. NOTE TO PRODUCERS: Do NOT put the word "failure" in the title of a romantic comedy.

"Failure to Launch" is supposed to be a romantic comedy, however, director Tom Dey left out one essential ingredient absolutely necessary for a romantic comedy...chemistry. McConaughey and Parker have zero chemistry, and their attempts at building a "relationship" are embarrassingly empty of anything remotely connected to physical or emotional attraction.

Despite repeated failures, Hollywood still seems intent on turning McConaughey into a romantic leading man.

Stop it.

McConaughey can do action. McConaughey can play the rebel. Heck, McConaughey can even do comedy at times. McConaughey, however, is embarrassingly awkward in nearly every romantic comedy he's ever attempted.

"Failure to Launch" is a comedy, alright. It's a comedy of errors. Sometimes, I have such a hard time believing that someone sat down in a Hollywood studio conference room, shared this script and someone said "Great idea. We'll finance it."


Who would consider it a good idea to turn Kathy Bates into a self-centered, misguided and, at times, downright cruel mother? Personally, I'd rather see her naked again.

Who really read this script and thought "Man, all those animal bites are funny" and "Let's have the best friend lock them in a closet together?" Yeah, that's really funny.

Who really thought that this mean-spirited film could somehow be transformed into a romantic comedy?

First, what kind of parent truly hires an "interventionist" to intentionally deceive their child (no matter how old your child is, they are always your child)? Are we truly to believe that no man has ever responded poorly to this shabby treatment? Are we truly to believe that after being treated so poorly and being left heartbroken these men don't return home?

Give me a break.

Of course, McConaughey's character is truly no better. He's known to intentionally bring a woman home to his "house" for sex when he wants to break up with them...only afterward revealing that it is his parent's house.

Then, of course, there's the underlying cruelty here of Tripp's parents. While the film never dwells on it, there is a reason that Tripp has remained at home and, in the end, instead of getting support and help for their son they, instead, manipulate and lie to him.

So, what are we left with?

"Failure to Launch" is, essentially, a story about a group of individuals who have failed to mature to the point that they can carry on healthy, human and authentic relationships. It is a film based on a lame premise left in the hands of a "romantic" couple without chemistry. In any true romantic comedy, a certain amount of suspension is required on the part of the audience. It is only because we bond with the persons in question that we are willing to suspend our belief and enjoy the blossoming relationship.

Unfortunately, there's nothing in "Failure to Launch" to which anyone can possibly bond. The parents are unlikable, the couple in question uncomfortable, and the script that ties it all together is a mishmash of comedy, melodrama and slapstick that never gels together.

The highlight of "Failure to Launch" is the presence of Zooey Deschanel as Kit, Paula's roommate, who is the funniest and certainly the only functional character in the entire film (well, at least until a remarkably stupid "mouth-to-beak" scene).

Deschanel is not, however, enough to save "Failure to Launch" from playing as a mean-spirited, tired and pointless film disguising itself as a romantic comedy.

Failure to Launch.


On second thought, maybe it really is the perfect title for this film.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic