Failure to Launch
Paramount // PG-13 // $29.99 // June 27, 2006
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 25, 2006
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The Movie:

More and more young adults are living with their parents to a later age than they used to, a topic that's been the subject of many Dr. Phil episodes and now, in an exaggerated form, a feature film. "Failure to Launch" stars Matthew McConaughey as Trip, a 35-year-old who lives with his Mom (Kathy Bates) and Dad (Terry Bradshaw). It's a sweet living arrangement - he lives in their very nice house and mom does laundry every day.

However, Trip's parents have reached that point where they feel as if they've earned some time on their own. They still get along well with their son, but they'd kinda sorta like him out. Figuring that they've exhausted all their options, they finally stumble upon a woman named Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker, miscast) whose rather odd career is starting a relationship with men living with their parents, giving them enough self-confidence to want to be independent and then moving on.

The picture proceeds just in the way that you'd probably expect it to: Paula has a clause in her contract not to start an intimate relationship with clients but does when she falls for Trip; Trip's friend finds out, there's the inevitable conflict that breaks them apart before they come together again, as they figure that yeah, they actually kinda like each other. An emotional element from Trip's past that'd be major in another movie is introduced late in the game here and then...essentially forgotten about, which just seems strange. Also odd is that we never see Parker's character actually have to "move on" from a client and the effects of that.

"Failure to Launch" tries to be funny and romantic but never really manages either very well. As for the latter, it's largely due to the fact that the easygoing, laid-back McConaughey and the more tightly wound Parker don't seem like a good match on paper and this is one of those instances where opposites don't seem to attract on-screen, either. The main issue is that the two not only don't have chemistry, but don't seem to even be making an attempt to show a connection with each other. The two leads are supposed to fall in love, but I was completely baffled as to why they did, when they did (I can't remember a romantic comedy where the two people who fall in love really interact as little as these two do here) or how they did. Neither offers a bad performance (McConaughey's low-key performance is amusing at times, Parker's not as much), but they just don't click at all together.

As for the comedy, the movie just doesn't really offer that many amusing situations or bits of dialogue (I'm not saying that it tries and fails, I'm saying that there's just not all that much here that seems to be intended to be funny.) A running gag is having Trip randomly bitten by wild animals. It's slightly funny (but mostly just odd) and there's no real payoff to the joke until an eye-rolling explanation late in the picture. The only actual bit of humor in the picture is completely unintentional: the wonderful Zooey Deschanel ("Elf") plays Paula's rather goth roommate superbly, but seems to have walked in from a totally and completely different movie.

Overall, "Failure" just didn't work for me. It's too predictable, not funny enough and not very romantic. There's a few moments here-and-there, but the material just doesn't click and neither does Parker with McConaughey.

The DVD

VIDEO: "Failure" is presented by Paramount in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (a separate pan & scan edition is also available) and thankfully, the presentation is certainly no failure. Image quality is terrific throughout, as sharpness and detail were consistently fantastic.

The picture did display some minor edge enhancement on a couple of occasions, but otherwise appeared completely crisp and clean, with no pixelation, print flaws or shimmer. Colors remained bright and vibrant, with nice saturation and no smearing or other concerns.

SOUND: "Failure" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Aside from a paintball fight that really fires up the surrounds, the film's audio is largely dialogue-driven, with the rear speakers remaining quiet. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue and clear sound effects.

EXTRAS: The extras section offers a decent mix of the usual: a "making of" promo featurette, a featurette on the situation (kids living at home) in the movie, an interview between McConcaughey and Terry Bradshaw, trailers and a contest featurette.

Final Thoughts: It has a couple of brief laughs, but "Failure" never really gets off the ground as either a romance or a comedy, as the leads seem miscast and the rather uneventful script could have used a few more rewrites to figure out a better direction for the story. However, the DVD offers excellent audio/video quality and a nice set of minor supplements. A slight rental recommendation as a date night time-waster for those who didn't see the picture theatrically and are still interested.


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