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Overall Rating
2.54

Awesome: 2.3%
Worth A Look: 13.79%
Average41.38%
Pretty Bad: 20.69%
Total Crap: 21.84%

9 reviews, 33 user ratings


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Failure to Launch
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by David Cornelius

"Awful. Just flat-up, plain ol' awful."
1 stars

How aptly titled: “Failure to Launch” is out of gas, stalled on the pad, dead on arrival. It’s a romantic comedy so horrible that you actively root for the relationship to crash. Neither convincing nor charming, the film plays like an abandoned Adam Sandler project clumsily retooled for the chick flick crowd.

I name check Sandler because “Failure to Launch” has far more Happy Madison elements than I would have expected: a former pro athlete (in this case it’s Terry Bradshaw) brought in for supporting funnyman duties; male rear nudity used for cheap comic effect; ultra-wacky parents, including a mother played by Kathy Bates (a stretch, I know, as Bates appeared in only one Sandler film, but still); pointless subplots that go nowhere. Mix with this substandard romcom clichés: a relationship founded on deceit; leads with impossibly perfect jobs and plenty of free time to spend impossibly perfect time off with friends; a convoluted finale in which the leads reconcile while others cheer them on from afar; pointless subplots that go nowhere.

The premise: Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is the perfect guy - great looks, great job, great pals. He also still lives with his parents (Bates and Bradshaw), which puts off the ladies. Enter Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), who runs a business in which parents hire her to date their sons, having them fall so much in love that they finally move out, wherein one supposes she breaks up with them. Trip’s parents hire Paula for such a service, but wouldn’t you know it, she ends up falling in love with the guy for real.

Never mind that the entire plot revolves around sexless prostitution paid for by parents too gutless to deal with their idiot sons. Never mind that we’re expected to believe that there’s so much demand to be had for such a service in the first place. Never mind that the movie features characters with names like “Trip,” “Kit,” “Ace,” and “Demo.” Even without all this, “Failure to Launch” is a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid movie.

Screenwriters Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember make their feature debut here after years of writing sitcoms, and it shows - this one’s a lousy sitcom in movie form, complete with best-bud characters named “Demo” and “Ace” (played by the guy from “Alias” and the guy from “Gigli”). Scenes are clunky set-ups to clunkier punch lines, all overplayed. One scene has Trip getting bitten by a squirrel, another has Ace performing CPR on a bird. When the writers run out of ideas, they just have the character go play paintball for a while, which is as dull as it sounds.

Meanwhile, we have Zooey Deschanel, looking irritated at the very idea of having to be a movie this asinine. She plays Paula’s sassy/bitchy roommate, and there’s an entire subplot about how she wants to kill the mockingbird who chirps outside her bedroom window, resulting in various asides in which she buys a rifle. Her character’s presence is the sort that could only make sense to a couple of sitcom writers trying to fill time. (Side thought: imagine just how horrid a movie must become before it removes all the allure from Zooey Deschanel.)

And just when you’re tired of the comedy, in comes the drama. Astle and Ember attempt to give the Trip character the weight of a tragic backstory (a girlfriend who died years ago), but it doesn’t work, coming off with too much desperation, a strained effort to tug at heartstrings.

To his credit, McConaughey does fine with his role, as he’s aptly cast once again as the easy-going slacker. He handles the goofier slapstick moments as easily as he does the charming ones. (Parker, meanwhile, stumbles over every punch line, delivering an uneven, miserable performance.) But consider the casting: McConaughey may be the best choice for such a role in terms of box office draw, but watch how director Tom Dey (“Shanghai Noon,” “Showtime”) fills similar roles. Paula’s other clients are supergeeks and megalosers, including Patton Oswalt in a cameo as a “Star Wars”-obsessed slob. This tells us that the movie thinks all guys living at home are big fat nerds… unless, of course, we need one to be the star of our movie, and then they’re hunks. (Side thought: imagine just how horrid a movie must become before it removes all the funny from Patton Oswalt.)

Dey does such a miserable job staging the comedy (heightened by some of the shoddiest editing to ever make it into a major motion picture) that every minute of the film just hangs there, limp as can be. By the time we get to the finale - in which (and oh, how I wish I were making this up) a kidnapped Trip and Paula must confront each other while friends, family, and strangers look on via webcam! - we’re worn out by the complete idiocy of it all. “Failure to Launch” is a stupid movie about stupid people doing stupid things, adding a shot of Terry Bradshaw’s ass for good measure. It’s everything wrong with bad romantic comedies, all rolled into one easy-to-hate package.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14094&reviewer=392
originally posted: 02/25/07 08:16:21
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User Comments

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
9/21/09 the dork knight fast-paced movies with some snappy jokes. Zooey is damn cute 4 stars
1/14/09 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
10/01/08 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
6/09/08 PAUL SHORTT THE TITLE OF THE FILM COULD ALSO SERVE AS ITS REVIEW 1 stars
10/06/07 Bitchflaps Appalling and unwatchable. Every single scene falls flat on its face. 1 stars
4/29/07 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
2/25/07 Jack Sommersby Absolutely dreadful from first scene to last. 1 stars
12/05/06 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
7/12/06 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
7/01/06 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
6/03/06 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
5/08/06 Diane Perkins boring and very predictable 2 stars
5/03/06 Ashley OK movie, my 48 year old father liked it better than me. 3 stars
4/28/06 julie fun, entertaining, not much chemistry, but I laughed alot 4 stars
4/10/06 Ron Newbold Better than expected - but not great 3 stars
4/08/06 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
3/31/06 Soha Molina ok 3 stars
3/28/06 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
3/14/06 Lester M. Davis Very good "no think" comedy. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Mar-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Jun-2006

UK
  17-Mar-2006

Australia
  13-Apr-2006



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