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Friday, February 24, 2006

Failure to Launch

Every once in a while, there comes a rom-com which manages to buck the trend of mediocrity usually attached to the genre. There are films such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle and Four Weddings and a Funeral which all transcended their expectations and were critically acclaimed for being both romantic and funny.

Failure To Launch is not one of those movies.

Failure to Launch
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Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is a perfect ladies' man. Attractive, smooth and charming his routine is near flawless. That is until he takes the girl home for the night. Home to his parents. Trip hasn't been able to leave his family home yet and his parents are starting to tire of his constant presence. In comes Paula, an 'interventionist', hired by Trip's parents to help show Trip that life can be better on the other side. But, and you'll never guess this, she starts to harbour true feelings for her client. Yawn.

It appears on paper that Failure To Launch would prove an inoffensive little time-waster and for the first 10 or maybe even 15 minutes - the charm of the two lead stars make it somewhat bearable. But this goodwill soon falters. It's actually quite incredible how the filmmakers could turn such a light, fluffy premise into something so completely hate-worthy.

The premise as it stands is deeply flawed. What kind of job is an interventionist? In what warped world would such a stupid job exist? And why does no one in the film seem at all surprised that such a job does exist? The interventionist is played by the usually likeable Sarah Jessica Parker. One would think that with all of her experience in the genre, she would avoid drivel like this as she would the plague. This is the kind of movie her and her Sex and the City counterparts would ridicule.

Matthew McConaughey, once seen as a contender for the top, is again slumming it in a depressingly smug manner. Together, they make for an attractive yet bland couple who share absolutely no chemistry, something which proves a major problem. The filmmakers seem to lose interest with the main romance (much like the audience) half-way through and then scatter in variously inane subplots concerning their sidelined friends. Zooey Deschanel, so brilliant in films such as The Good Girl and Elf, replays her typical quirky, sardonic routine but tailored to the blockbuster crowd, meaning all of the humour and logic is taken away from her behaviour. Her main arc involves whether or not she can kill a bird.

The film also relies on stupefying slapstick comedy. Much of the 'humour' is derived from bizarre, incongruous scenes where McConaughey gets bitten by various animals. No, I don't get the relevance either. The dialogue is full of so many clunkers, it almost becomes unintentionally funny. That is if it wasn't so mind-numbingly dull. My 'favourite' line has to be "You smell!". I'd recommend bringing a sick bag to make the script that little bit more bearable.

The climax is ridiculously familiar. If one more person quits their job and travels to a faraway place, just because their love life has suddenly failed, I am going to slit my wrists. Don't be fooled by the seemingly light, likeable quality that a film like this has. It's a deviously bad film, one of the worst that I can remember. It makes How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days look like The Shawshank Redemption. And the title? They're asking for trouble there. Too. Many. Puns.

*By Ben Lee,


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