In Failure to Launch, Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is a 35-year-old man who still lives with his parents. His parents simply want him out of the house, which doesn’t seem so harsh considering his age. So what do they do? Why, they simply decide to hire a woman named Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) to assist them. Paula, you see, is a specialist in helping grown men move out of their parents’ homes. I didn’t even think such a job existed. Well, Paula, we soon learn, has a very simple method that usually guarantees h…r success. First, she looks nice, then she finds out what they like and she pretends to like it too. What a complex job. Paula calls this system “Failure to Launch”.
Trip’s parents, Sue and Al (played by Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw) live in a naturally beautiful home that Trip loves to pass off as his own. You see, Trip dates a girl, begins to like her, continues to date her, and then when he gets “the look”, he takes her home passing the home off as his own. It usually isn’t until Al comes into his room that he reveals to the girl that the home is actually his parent’s home. Sue tells Paula this is Trip’s method of breaking up with people. I find it hilarious that Sue takes the amount of care that she does of Trip for a man at his age. She cooks him a big breakfast, packs his launch, does his laundry, etc. I know the whole motherly-love thing is always around, but what kind of mother does this for her 35-year-old son?
The only partially redeeming item of this film, which I might add prevents it from being a total disaster, is the supporting cast. Granted Trip’s friends are borderline stupid with some of the acts they do (take for instance how Demo, Trip’s geeky computer friend, kidnaps him and tricks Paula into being locked in a room with Trip). This reminds me of the sitcom standard where every problem can be solved in the two main characters are locked in a confined space for some time. Enough with that though, as the real charmers are Trip’s parents, Sue and Al. Kathy Bates, per normal, seems to act to a key no matter how trite and dull the script probably is. Terry Bradshaw, with this being one of his first films, does a standard job with the role provided. Matthew McConaughey, he has seen better days, seems to make a few good films (Two for the Money and Sahara) and then seems to make a few bad films (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and now Failure to Launch) just to switch things up. McConaughey is a good actor when he wants to be. I suppose he acts in all these romantic comedies because he looks good and is a bankable romantic actor, which is just fine. Too bad he doesn’t use his true acting skills to make the standard romantic drab into some much more.
There are numerous scenes in the film where characters are bitten by various animals. I suppose something of this nature is suppose to be funny and is suppose to help us gain sympathy so we can develop a new relationship toward the characters, but I just couldn’t find this, or much else, funny. Characters like Trip and Paula are made to be charming so we can like them. However, these characters are so completely fake and are devoid of any natural emotions that we can never grow to like them.
As a romantic comedy, Failure to Launch, literally, ‘fails to launch’. Despite some of the supporting characters being slightly charming, the events they involve themselves in are so dumb and boring. As a film, mostly due to Sue and Al, Failure to Launch is worth one watch, but don’t expect much replay value as once you’ve seen a film of this nature, you’ve seen them all.
The image transfer of Failure to Launch is rather underwhelming with many notices of grain and edge enhancing, especially in a lot of the earlier sequences. The color palette, consisting of mostly brighter colors, was mostly spot on with no real problems. Flesh tones were adequate enough, but I did notice a few dead spots as the film progressed. For a film that was rather successful, Paramount surely did not clean up the image in the manner they should have for a successful film.
Failure to Launch is presented with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Audio Track which, despite this being a comedy, sounds just fine. Don’t go into this expecting demo material, but expect a fine track. Dynamics, while mostly being a dialogue heavy film, were spot on with little items like cars zooming around the surrounds while dialogue is presented in a very clear manner from the frontal range. I didn’t go into this expecting a lot, and I came out with a slightly satisfied feeling.
- Casting Off: The Making of Failure to Launch: This basic, extremely basic feature gives us a look into the making of the film. We get the standard cast comments, director comments, set previews, film conceptions, etc. Since I found the film to be dull, this feature was the same.
- The Failure to Launch Phenomenon: In this feature, we get more of a behind the scenes look into the making of the film. While the actual making of focused on various aspects of the film, this feature focuses more on the plot of the film.
- Interview with Actor Matthew McConaughey: Here is an interview with McConaughey as he answers a few questions including why he wanted to make the film and what he thinks about the director.
- Interview with Actor Terry Bradshaw: Bradshaw sits down for the standard Q and A giving us a little more depth than McConaughey did.
- Trailer: Here we get the film’s theatrical trailer.
- Dating in the New Millennium: This interactive feature gives us a few basic tips on dating in the new Millennium.
Since I didn’t find the film to be rather amazing in any manner, I didn’t really find many of the features involving at all. The video and audio qualities are rather underwhelming as well. All of these unfortunate negatives give the film a barely passable mark in the rental column.
Special Features List
- Casting Off: The Making of Failure to Launch
- The Failure to Launch Phenomenon
- Interview with Actor Matthew McConaughey
- Interview with Actor Terry Bradshaw
- Dating in the New Millennium