“Failure to Launch,” which opens nationwide today, stars Matthew McConaughey as Tripp, a 30-something slacker who refuses to leave his parents’ home. When mom and dad (Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw) decide enough is enough, they hire a “professional interventionist” (Sarah Jessica Parker) to wean Tripp and prepare him for independent living.
“Failure to Launch” is what’s called a “high-concept romantic comedy,” meaning a synopsis or preview basically tells you everything there is to know about the movie. This rom-com falls solidly in the line of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (which also starred McConaughey) or “Hitch.”
Director Tom Dey and writers Tom Astle and Matt Ember offer several hefty helpings of slapstick and over-the-top humor, so at least it’s not boring (consider that Tripp gets bitten by a chipmunk, dolphin and reptile). But, all things considered, “Launch” holds together fairly well.
That’s due in no small part to the support of Tripp’s buddies, Ace (Justin Bartha) and Demo (Bradley Cooper), who also live with their parents and as such are examples of the phenomenon known as “failure to launch.” Ace’s storyline is enhanced by a relationship with Paula’s quirky roommate (Zooey Deschanel), whose mission in life involves killing a mockingbird whose songs prohibit sleep.
Again, the plot’s trajectory is predictable, but “Launch” is of course not about narrative inventiveness. It’s about laughs amid clichéd family tensions. And that’s where Bates and Bradshaw, as Tripp’s parents, play their part.
“Launch” is the sort of movie in which the pairing of ex-NFL quarterback Bradshaw with Academy Award-winner Bates doesn’t seem odd. And when audiences get about three ample glimpses of Bradshaw’s behind—as he hangs out in his “naked room”—well, that hardly seems odd here either. (But don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
McConaughey and Parker don’t appear to have much chemistry, but independently each actor delivers the goods—especially McConaughey, whose role calls for an authentic sense of humor and timing, which he has.
“Failure to Launch” winds up affirming the dangers of manipulation in relationships—and of entering someone else’s “naked room.”
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and language. Reviewer’s Note: Tripp is known for his sexual dalliances—even in his parents’ house. And don’t forget Bradshaw’s “naked room” …
Director: Tom Dey
Writers: Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember
Cast: Tripp: Matthew McConaughey; Paula: Sarah Jessica Parker; Kit: Zooey Deschanel; Ace: Justin Bartha; Demo: Bradley Cooper; Al: Terry Bradshaw; Sue: Kathy Bates.
The movie’s official Web site is here.