Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Failure To Launch

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A romantic fantasy for Sex And The City fans, fortified with poorly executed slapstick for the fellas, Failure To Launch casts Sarah Jessica Parker as "professional interventionist" not unlike Will Smith's "date doctor" in Hitch. Parker operates on the belief that romance is an exact science that can be plotted and diagrammed like a mathematical equation. Of course, that's only true in romantic comedies, since they're subject to such ossified conventions. And one of them dictates that the rigid schemes of uptight career women like Parker invariably go awry once love and other messy emotions enter the equation.

Here the messy emotions start when Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw hire Parker to date their amiable slacker son (Matthew McConaughey) so he'll move out of their house. (Somehow, they see this as easier than asking, "Son, we love you, but have you thought about getting your own place?") Failure To Launch does far too good a job of establishing McConaughey's pre-Parker life as a paradise of eternal adolescence. He sleeps with a different beautiful woman every week, and his good friends and adoring parents cater to his every whim. So why would he want to throw that away so he can commit to a callous, unpleasant professional liar? Oh yeah, so he can grow up.

But in order to make a persuasive argument for maturity, Failure To Launch would need to grow up itself, ditching its labored physical comedy and all-encompassing ignorance of plausible behavior. Launch writes itself into such a corner that the only way it can manage a happy ending is to lock its leads in a room and force them to have a meaningful conversation. The only bright spot—beyond McConaughey's boyish Southern charm and a pleasant soundtrack—is Zooey Deschanel as Parker's acid-tongued roommate, whose quirks include alcoholism and nihilism. Someone really should tell Deschanel that she's already too big and too good for thankless Eve Arden roles.