Failure to Launch
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Content: -1 1/2
Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Terry Bradshaw and Kathy Bates. Written by Tom J. Astle & Matt Ember. Directed by Tom Dey.
Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is 35 and lives at home with his parents. He makes a good living selling boats, but has always had some reason for not leaving the nest. Finally, out of frustration, his parents hire a gorgeous lure (Sarah Jessica Parker) who makes her living getting men who suffer from failure to launch, as she puts it, to fall for her, then subtly gets them to fly the family coup.
Dying is easy, comedy is hard. And trying to find a fresh slant on the man/woman relationship is nearly impossible. These are the two mountains director Tom Dey had to climb, all the while pulling a game cast behind him. But the mistake that doomed his production was made at the outset dishonesty. For there is not one honest, real emotional tug in the entire film. Well, now wait, the audience was touched when the comic sidekicks, trying to scare off an annoying mockingbird, accidentally shot it square in the chest with a bb gun. Seeing feathers fly and the films thematic symbol fall to the ground, we all let out a heartfelt ahhh. But even that moment had an untrue payoff when the bird is given CPR, recovers and wreaks havoc before flying off. Did I say, CPR on a bird? Yes, for this is a love story peppered with slapstick and absurdity, two comedy staples that have been troublesome for comedic legends, let alone comic neophyte Matthew McConaughey.
I feel somewhat like a surgeon about to operate, but while examining the films failures, I realized that to fix this film, youd first have to gut it like a fish. Take warning, the following critical procedure is going to be messy.
Let us begin with this gals profession. Im not sure what the Yuppy name is for her occupation. Lets see, she deceives men into believing she cares for them, so that theyll leave mom and dad and get a place of their own in order that the happy couple can live happily ever after. Only, when the guys fall for her and get their own places, she leaves them, her missions accomplished (this is implied, as we never actually see the completion of her business arrangements). What would you call such a profession? I know what youd call the womanthe leading lady. Ha, you thought I was going to be like, all crude, right?
Then theres the leading guy. Handsome, successful, clever, a real catch, but whenever a girl gives him the look, a glance that reveals a desire to take the relationship to a more substantial level, he takes them home to have sex. In the morning the unsuspecting female/victim discovers hes living with the folks. In a huff, the girl always leaves, thereby ending the relationship without him having to bother with unsightly breakup scenes. (The script is careful not to be explicit with just how uncaring these two really are.)
This is a romantic comedy; therefore, we all know at the outset that the two leads are going to get together. So despite their shallowness, theyre going to become finer people. But Im not sure they really do. They fall in love, so they realize their behavior to one another has been atrocious but at no point do they seem repentive toward others theyve wronged. In other words, its okay to use and abuse people, just not the ones we choose to call loved ones. Now, thats a fine moral distinction for a films protagonists.
Next, we have Zooey Deschanel (Elf, Winter Passing) playing Sara Jessicas cynical roommate. She uses her deadpan scoffing humor to great success. Shes funny. Shes also foul. She curses throughout the film and uses Christs name as a mere expletive for releaving frustration. She even profanes Gods name twice in her introductory scene. (Theres a real mood setter for a romantic comedy; the incorporating of Gods name followed by a curse.)
Then theres the films foundation men who live with their parents. Guys living at home has been a running gag on TV and in films for years now, it being a plot device that lets us know theyre losers. How these poor souls have escaped political correctness is beyond me, for the humor is cruel and often unfairly labeling. But were a society that needs someone to cast aspersions upon. And no other sect or group will let us do that.
Last and least, is the films humor. Bawdy sexual comments abound, supplemented by another comedy staple, the painful mishap. The tiresome and out-of-place slapstick runs the gambit from bicycle and boating mishaps to wilderness creatures biting the male lead because as were eventually told hes not at one with nature. Some of these gags work. And comedy being what it is, you may enjoy the ones I didnt. But by Act Two, my giggles changed to groans, and the laughter from other audience members seemed strained, as well.
Its slick, hip, yet somehow shallow and disconnected. Looking for something affirmative to say about the film, I keep coming back to the title. Its a good title. But the premise and execution are like the promise of fireworks that ultimately fizzle.
Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.
No bodily function humor, but the film is filled with sexual innuendo and suggestiveness.
Obscene Language: Nearly ten rough swear words, mostly the s-word which has become the equivalent of darn it in todays cinema; the male lead also curses, using the f-word once.
Profanity: Gods name followed by a curse is heard 4 times, as well as Jesus name misused the same amount. The expression Oh God is heard 3 times.
Violence: Several slapstick situations involving falls off bicycles, boats and mountain cliffs, plus the male lead beaten by three members of the animal kingdom.
Blood: A little amount from an animal bite.
Sex: A graphic sexual situation under the covers; an implied situation between the two leads; sex outside marriage is treated casually in this film, an accepted lifestyle.
Nudity: We see the leads father, a bald, fat man unclothed from behind in a comic scene.
Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Bawdy sexual dialogue is heard on several occasions. A 8-year-old tells the lead that a certain lady is a lesbian. The boy has several other scenes where he discusses sexual matters, all meant to be amusing.
Drugs: The leads drink wine and beer on several occasions.
Other: I felt it is a film weak on message and moral.
Running Time: 97 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults
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