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Movie Review

Failure to Launch

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and language

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Romance Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 37 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
March 10, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper
Director: Tom Dey
Producer: Scott Rudin
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“To leave the nest, some men just need a little push.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “A thirtysomething man who still lives with his parents falls in love with the woman of his dreams and begins to suspect she has been hired by his parents as a way to get him out of the house.”

Copyrighted, Paramount Pictures

I promised myself before ever stepping foot into the theater to see “Failure to Launch” that under no circumstance, and no matter how bad the film was, I would not use the title as a joke describing the ineptitude of the film. I confess, having now seen the film, that keeping the promise will be very difficult. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel, and NFL great Terry Bradshaw; all of whom are talented in their own right, but they embarrass themselves and put an ugly stain on their careers by putting their names to this. They aren’t necessarily bad in the film, it’s just that the movie is so bad, they could have given Oscar worthy performances and it wouldn’t have mattered. It’s kind of like watching Jerry Rice, quite possibly the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL, ham it up on the reality show “Dancing with the Stars.” You know these people are better than this, capable of so much more, yet for some strange reason they feel called to take on projects like this. Surely their bills can’t be that bad.

McConaughey plays Tripp, a 35 year-old boat broker who still lives at home with his parents Al and Sue (Bates and Bradshaw). Tripp uses this to his advantage in the relationship arena. He doesn’t let on to dates that he hasn’t moved out, and when he sees that a relationship is moving into the serious zone, he takes them home, where they inevitably meet the parents. He then is of course branded a loser by the girl, who leaves him to find another girl to continue the cycle.

Well, Al and Sue have had enough of his mooching. At a barbeque one afternoon, they are talking to their friends who all seem to have had the same problem of their children not wanting to move out. One couple announces, rather dramatically, that they finally got their son out of the house by using a secret weapon none of them even knew existed. Her name is Paula, and she is played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Paula specializes in getting grown men out of their parent’s houses by, basically, dating them, using a tried and true technique of getting them to reach the point of falling in love with her, thus somehow getting them to move out. She then breaks up with them, and they (we are told) live happily ever after, away from their parents.

Now, I was sort of curious how this would work, but we don’t get to see her in action prior to meeting Tripp. I thought that maybe having the woman they are in love with break their hearts would make them want to move back in, but I guess that raises too many questions. And in a movie that runs 97 minutes, there really isn’t enough time for questions, especially when most of the secondary scenes are filled with slightly psychotic animals.

The movie probably could have been titled “When Animals Attack Celebrities,” but that might not have played to audiences as well. Let’s see, there is a lunatic mockingbird (who sounds like no mockingbird I have ever heard, more like a collection of random street noises), a pack of murderous dolphins, a Hannibal Lecter-like chipmunk (who seems to prefer human flesh over chocolate), and a “vegetarian lizard” who breaks from his food preferences just long enough to teach Tripp a valuable life lesson. Well, here is a quick lesson in comedies. Anytime a comedy writer has to resort to slapstick animal humor to make up for their less than stellar dialogue, your chances of getting a good movie are about as good as me keeping the image of Terry Bradshaw’s naked backside from haunting me for the rest of my life—slim to none. Which leads me to the film’s content.

Aside from the afore-mentioned nudity, there are a few sexual encounters between non-married people, although none contain any more nudity. There is a good deal of language, some rather strong. Tripp uses the F-word and a plethora of other words throughout the film, particularly during his encounter with Flipper. Other characters use profanity through film, including a few uses of God’s name in vain. There is alcohol use, mostly by Paula’s friend Kit (Zooey Deschanel), who seems to live each day for the bottle. And the moral issues of manipulation and deceit work there way into the film, making this a film parents will want to at least check out before sending their kids to see it.

To be completely honest, I went into this movie not expecting much, not expecting to even laugh really, and for the most part I got what I expected. If there is one bright spot (although it is more like a dimmed bright spot) it is a rather funny performance by Zooey Deschanel, whose character obsesses over the bizarre mockingbird that won’t shut up. Here’s the thing though, it isn’t the mockingbird that makes her funny. Her line delivery, sarcastic sense of humor, and constant look of sheer annoyance are what lifts her above the rest of the cast, and above the animals. Perhaps the screenwriters should have spent a little more time developing good dialogue and a cohesive plot, instead of cheating themselves and us with cheap animal gags. All this and I haven’t even touched the ending, which is so preposterous it makes even “Hitch” look like a romantic comedy classic. If you’re looking for a good romantic comedy, do yourself a favor and look somewhere else.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I was unsure whether to see this film, but one of my friends wanted to see it. I ended up liking it. It was better than I thought it would be. There is some language in it though, that they could have done without. There was only one small sex scene at the beginning, but it didn’t show anything. There is full back nudity of the father. But all in all, it was a cute film.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Samantha, age 26
Neutral
Neutral—Because my husband and I are at the empty-nester age group, but still have 2 daughters at home, we found the movie rather amusing and the subject matter appealing in some ways. Whilst we would never agree to our children having sex with their partners in our house (or elsewhere), we do recognise that the general world seems to accept that kind of behaviour. We went knowing that the movie would have a secular view to life, but just wanted to go enjoy a movie. We came away grateful that we have only daughters, and that none of our girls have behaved in the way of those depicted in the movie.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Kathie, age 40+
Neutral—This film seems to have no problems with having sex before marriage. It starts out with him having sexual relations with a girl at his parents house where he still leaves. It is humorous how his mom caters to his every need. …I thought it was entertaining. I would take my son to see this because it implies they have sexual intercourse, but doesn’t show it. You see his dad’s naked behind in one of the scenes, also. Overall, I enjoyed the movie…
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Lisa Rankin, age 30
Negative
Negative—I could not have agreed with Jonathan, the reviewer, more on this film. The few laughs that I got from the drunk girl does not make up for the time and money that was lost the night I watched “Failure to Launch”. I would advise others to pick something else to see.
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—Danielle Woods, age 21
Negative—This movie has literally 'failed to launch.'
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—Daniel Duenez, age 23
Negative—…overall I’d give it a YUK!
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 1
—Allen
Negative—I was flying back from Kaua’i, Hawaii when I saw “Failure to Launch.” For the sake of passing an hour and however long on a plane, I grabbed my head phones and tuned in. Well, being a guy, it was clear I was not the target audience. What was clear was why it was showing on an airplane: the movie’s terrible. Granted, I’m a little pessimistic and admittedly unwilling to believe airlines are capable of showing good movies on their planes, but still, this movie is just… ridiculous. Definitely not quality entertainment.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Jacob Keenum, age 21
Negative—Rauncy with no redeeming value. Not even entertaining. The movie is of the ilk of “Hitch” but just plain stinks. The values are deplorable.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 2
—Joe, age 57
Comments from young people
Positive—I personally thought it was really cute, and I loved the roomate’s (I think her name was Zooey?) character. …
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Amber, age 16
Negative—I was expecting more from this movie from what I had seen in the commercials. Unfortunately, the commercials were all there was to see. The rest of the movie drug on and on and on and on. The plot was boring and predictable. The only character that had any depth was the friend who still was very weird and questionable behavior. The movie was mostly Animals Attacking People and that should have been considered for the title. Most of this isn’t funny at all and has nothing to do with the movie. Overall, it was a highly immoral and unsatisfying movie; I am sad to say I wasted 2 hours of my life watching.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Maggie, age 16
Positive—…average for normal movies now. It was a typical film and just a little too predictable. I’m only 11 and my parents tried to put me in bed before it started but the way it started I literally got down on my hands and knees to wach it. As an 11 year old people refer to me being influenced by this and stuff, but I’m smarter then that. I liked this film and am not worried about any of the sexual content.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—Cort, age 11