A review of “Failure to Launch” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: * 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for partial nudity and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes



The title is perfectly apt – and too easy a target -- for this romantic comedy that never shifts out of second gear.

Dreamy Matthew McConaughey seems to be suffering from Michael Douglas Syndrome – the inexplicable need to remake the same genre picture over and over again, thus ensuring box office gold.

McConaughey’s smooth Southern drawl and sultry looks are up front and center in his facile role as easy-going Tripp, a thirty-five year old mama’s boy in no hurry to fly the coop.

And why should he be? Mom (Kathy Bates) and Dad (Terry Bradshaw of Pittsburgh Steelers fame) cater to his every whim – meals, laundry service and a homey B&B atmosphere that any Gen-Xer worth his salt would eat up.

Anxious to cut the apron strings the folks hire a professional interventionist named Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who promises to pull the relationship ripcord by guaranteeing that Tripp fall for her and subsequently move into his own place.

Cute premise, something along the lines of McConaughey’s “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days”. Or McConaughey’s “The Wedding Planner”. I feel a trend coming on.

Needless to say Paula’s subterfuge works like a charm. More needless to say Paula finds herself seduced by Tripp’s charms as her best-laid plan threatens to unravel in disastrously comedic fashion.

Implausible scenarios include wacky outdoor adventures gone awry and a trio of aggressive mammals who want a taste of our hero. More problems stem from a weak script and cheap laughs (though I fell for the mockingbird gag) to a stinky stench of bad sitcom.

Supporting players seem confused as to their “motivation”; typically dry-witted Zooey Deschanel flatlines as Paula’s manic-depressive roomie and Bradshaw missteps with an awkward and gratuitous nude scene. Parker is as Parker does.

When the going gets rough there’s always Matthew to fall back on; easy on the eyes and heavy on the sensuality. Thank goodness for small favors.