Publicity Stills of "Failure to Launch"
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Romance/Comedy
Director: Tom Dey
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Justin Bartha, Kathy Bates, Terry Bradshaw, Bradley Cooper, Zooey Deschanel
Runtime: 1 hr 27 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG

Release Date: 23 March 2006

Synopsis :

A twenty something single guy who still lives at home, falls in love and is then crushed to discover his parents hired his girlfriend to get him to move out of the house.

Movie Review:

You're a twenty-thirty something year old guy who lives with your parents. You hang out with your buddies, play video games, have your bed and breakfast made by Mom, and have little worry about household chores. Essentially you're having the time of your life, with convenience taken for granted, knowing that your homefront is taken care of. Is there anything wrong with staying with the folks?

Apparently so, if you subscribe to the western idea of signifying your independence by striking out on your own. Not that it doesn't have its advantages, especially if you crave privacy. But wait, in the local context, it's perfectly alright (even expected I suppose), since property prices are way out of reach to most working young adults (not to mention red tape in place), and probably isn't as comfortable or nice too. And the movie acknowledged these facts by having
parents discuss them, even though they are still of the opinion that their children move out (thus giving them more privacy in their twilight years too).

Anyway, that sets up the basic premise of the movie. Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) lives with his parents (Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw), and shows no signs of moving out. Fact is, the excuse of staying in also serves his purpose in dumping his many girlfriends, where they freak out when they learn of his shared accomodation.

Herein lies the problem - the parents love Tripp, and can't bear to order him to leave (which parent can?). So through a referral, they engage the services of Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), a professional personal motivator (read: liar) whose mission is to get slacker guys out of the house, by boosting their self-esteem through a (faked) romantic relationship, with her.

Think Hitch, except that while Hitch helps his clients through staying out of the way when providing tips and tricks, Paula gets herself personally involved, and at the end of the day, when the guy has moved out, satisfying her mission, she will drop them and move on.

But of course, things get complicated when both Tripp and Paula develop real feelings for each other, leading to various boy-meets-loves-loses-girl situations. Starting off in an unconventional premise, it sinks to conventional predictability of a love story. No worries though, there isn't any need for the tissues, just lower your expectations so that you won't be comparing this to better romance comedies out there.

Perhaps what helped made the movie a tad more bearable are the supporting roles on both Tripp's and Paula's side, with the former having equally slacker type, geeky buddies, and the latter living with a best female pal who provided most of the deadpan humour,
and is quite a looker too (Zooey Deschanel, last seen in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). And of course the really absurd (some might say cute) situations that Tripp seems to have with animals.

It's one of the formulaic Hollywood romance comedy movies, without much romance, and contrived comedy. It's predictable, which worked against it as you probably wouldn't care much for the lead characters, since they're pretty fluffy anyway. But given that it's a tried and tested formula, it isn't a surprise if the movie still appeals to dating couples.

Movie Rating:

(Failure to Launch has a self-explanatory title, relying much on the predictable formula of romance and comedy to tide it through)

Review by Stefan Shih

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