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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.27%
Worth A Look: 13.64%
Just Average40.91%
Pretty Crappy: 20.45%
Sucks: 22.73%

9 reviews, 34 user ratings

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Failure to Launch
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by Peter Sobczynski

"And the award for Most Prophetic Title of the month goes to. . ."
2 stars

“Failure to Launch” is a new romantic comedy that is lacking only genuine romance and genuine comedy. It contains no discernible wit or charm, it features two unappealing lead characters portrayed by two actors who couldn’t have less chemistry together if they tried and the screenplay is so devoid of originality that the only genuine surprise occurs when it turns out that the “partial nudity” mentioned on the MPAA rating explanation is referring to some shots of Terry Bradshaw’s bare ass. The result is a weary slog that is so devoid of any signs of life that you wonder how the actors found the energy to drag themselves to the set to go through their paces every morning.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Trip, a charming and affable 30-something with good looks, a good job and a way with the ladies. However, he has one little quirk–he is still living at home with his parents (Bradshaw and Kathy Bates) and has no plans to leave the nest anytime soon. Frustrated, Mom and Dad decide to deal with the matter in the most sensible manner possible–they hire Linda (Sarah Jessica Parker), a “professional consultant” who specializes in such matters, to inspire him to move out. Her gimmick is to make her contacts fall in love with her by feigning interest in all of their favorite subjects and appearing to be the perfect girlfriend. As a result, her theory goes, their confidence will be boosted enough so that they will finally move out to start their own lives. (Of course, this is the point when she dumps them and disappears but I guess she assumes that while they may be heartbroken, they won’t be heartbroken enough to eat their security deposit.) According to Linda, this is an emerging new field and she is the best in the business but I suspect that her actual success can be measured by the fact that she is in her 30's and still living with a roommate, the relentlessly surly Kit (Zooey Deschanel).

Considering that the odds of McConaughey and Parker not winding up together at the fadeout are about the same as the odds that I will score the winning basket at the NCAA finals, you might think that writers Tom J. Astile & Matt Ember might try to throw something fresh and unusual into the mix in order to keep things slightly interesting. No such luck–everything is as rote and predictable as you might expect. When it appears that Linda is getting too close, Trip tries to convince her to leave by revealing that he lives with his parents but is shocked when she doesn’t seem to mind it that much. For her part, Linda finds herself genuinely falling in love with Trip but before she can reveal the circumstances behind their meeting, Trip learns that she was hired by his parents and cruelly dumps her. When Trip and Linda are both miserable after the break-up, their wacky friends, with nothing better to do with their lives, go to extravagant lengths to get them back together again. Even the subplots on display are exhausted–the snarky Kit finds herself romantically pursued by Trip’s relentlessly goofy and romantic pal (Justin Bartha) and there is a weirdly unfunny running gag in which Trip finds himself repeatedly being attacked by wild animals.

However, the real problem with “Failure to Launch” isn’t that the plot is so predictable. No, the real problem is that the two central characters are so completely unlikable that you only want them to wind up together so that they won’t go on to ruin the lives of others–both are self-absorbed and self-involved twits who are not even close to being as charming as they clearly think that they are. Perhaps realizing this, the screenplay awkwardly tries to give us a last-minute explanation for Trip’s behavior in order to make him seem more sympathetic but it not only doesn’t quite jibe with what we have already seen but the idea that his parents wouldn’t have mentioned it to Linda when hiring her is so unlikely that it shatters whatever tenuous grip on credibility that it may still have. Adding further to the problem is the simple fact that McConaughey and Parker, two of the more aggressively bland actors working today, strike zero sparks together in their scenes. By comparison, second bananas Bartha and Deschanel (and why is she still being wasted in sidekick roles?) strike enough sparks in their scenes together that I began thinking how much things could have been improved if they had been given the A storyline and the leads were relegated to the background schtick.

Occasionally, I will get asked if it is more difficult to write a review for a really good movie or a really bad movie. Actually, those extremes usually make for an easier review–it is relatively simple to sing the praises or viciously scorn something that is truly great or truly dreadful. In fact, the hardest kind of film to review is one like “Failure to Launch,” something that is so thoroughly dull and drab that it becomes a chore to simply recall the details, let alone come up with some keen and profound observations. After all, is it really fair that a critic should have to sit down and apply far more thought and insight into discussing a film when it is clear that precious little of the same went into its actual production?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14094&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/09/06 23:56:30
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User Comments

8/21/17 Louise Cr@p of the lowest order. Only saw it because it was shown during a flight. 1 stars
3/13/12 May Q. Horney Yes, Lenny,Zooey's best thing about it; Too bad she still might've"jumped the shark" herein 2 stars
9/20/09 the dork knight fast-paced movies with some snappy jokes. Zooey is damn cute 4 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. another just-okay chick flick. chick flicks are usually not great films. :P 3 stars
10/03/08 Lenny Zane Shows Zooey Deschanel can be best thing in a flick even when made to look like an idiot. 2 stars
9/30/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome story! 5 stars
9/13/08 Tabitha Cartwright Zooey Des Chanel is hilarious as mockingbird stalker, but main plot's a waste. 2 stars
10/05/07 Bitchflaps Appalling and unwatchable. Every single scene falls flat on its face. 1 stars
4/28/07 Miss Me I like it, but they could have done it with Kate Hudson instead of Sarah Jessica Parker... 4 stars
4/25/07 Snots Appalling. Almost physically painful to watch. 1 stars
4/05/07 Matt Forgettable and lacking in chemistry, but it has its funny moments. Okay for a rainy day. 3 stars
2/24/07 Jack Sommersby Absolutely dreadful from first scene to last. 1 stars
12/04/06 Stanley Thai The film is bad but the characters are likable but it's not a funny comedy... 2 stars
7/21/06 Joe Smaltz liked it, cute, good acting, will be around in repeats for a long time 4 stars
7/18/06 Higby Boring, devoid of originality, of humour, and I wish it were devoid of Bradshaw's bare ass! 1 stars
7/11/06 Ole Man Bourbon Cute, but has some stupid/superfluous subplots. 3 stars
7/03/06 Monday Morning I've seen a LOT worse lately. Namely, "Rumor Has It". 3 stars
6/30/06 Christopher With only a few romantic comedies a year standards drop and this becomes acceptable. OK. 3 stars
6/27/06 Louise Total crap! Can't stand MM - only watched it cos it was on the plane. 1 stars
6/21/06 Melissa Toadstool Very stupid, but still I enjoyed it. Zooey D as dumb non-blonde hilarious despite meanness. 4 stars
6/02/06 The Velcro Warlock Yep, Anna Faris, Zooey Deschanel, Mandy Moore - wish they'd all return to likeable roles! 3 stars
6/02/06 Julia Cox ZD has fallien into the Mandy Moore syndrome - Seemingly lovable actresses playing shrews. 3 stars
6/02/06 Marcia Zarwetten-Grassi O how sad, Ashley! Or do you mean "better than I"? 3 stars
5/07/06 Diane Perkins boring and very predictable 2 stars
5/02/06 Ashley OK movie, my 48 year old father liked it better than me. 3 stars
4/27/06 julie fun, entertaining, not much chemistry, but I laughed alot 4 stars
4/09/06 Ron Newbold Better than expected - but not great 3 stars
4/07/06 Eber Clease MM looked too old to be 35, he shld stick to masked parts from now on; like a LOTR's ghoul 1 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Had it's problems, but fun None-the-less. Always a fan of films made in New Orleans!!! 4 stars
3/30/06 Soha Molina ok 3 stars
3/27/06 Joe Schiappa Not as bad as you would think 3 stars
3/16/06 Steve Michaud Would have been far better had it been primarily about Zooey Deschanel's character 2 stars
3/13/06 Lester M. Davis Very good "no think" comedy. 5 stars
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  10-Mar-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Jun-2006



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