May 28, 2006 -- “Failure to Launch” is one of those average, by-the-numbers romantic comedies that Hollywood churns out several times a year like widgets on an assembly line. This film is a lot like “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “The Wedding Crashers” and films of that ilk. The only reason movies like this get made is that they make money. They cost little to produce and they usually make enough at the box office to more than cover those low costs. The DVD sales are pure gravy. In this regard, these kinds of movies are much like low-budget horror movies and teen sex comedies.
“Failure to Launch” stars Matthew McConaughey of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” as Tripp, a 30-something guy still living at home. His parents, Al and Sue (Former football star Terry Bradshaw and Kathy Bates of “About Schmidt”) hire a consultant, Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker of “The Family Stone”) to simulate a love affair with Tripp in order to get him out of the house. The formula is pretty straightforward. Paula and Tripp fall in love, but since their relationship is based on a deception, they have to break up in order to get back together again.
The performances by this low-cost cast are adequate. One pleasant surprise is the performance of Zooey Deschanel of “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” who plays Paula's friend Kit. She is a quirky actress with a talent for comedy and that comes across in this film. The best actress in the film, Kathy Bates, shines in one good middle age crisis scene. The rest of this material is beneath her. McConaughey and Parker, the two best-known actors in the film, have the lion's share of the screen time and they do their part to carry the movie. The problem is, there is not much substance to work with. This a very lightweight film. There is an attempt to put some drama into the plot, but aside from Bates' fine scene, it doesn't really work. There are a few funny moments in the film, but a lot of the jokes miss their target.
This is a forgettable film, but it made money, so you can expect more of the same from Hollywood, along with cheap horror films and gross teen sex comedies. In this business, you keep getting what you pay for, sort of. This film rates a C.
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