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Failure to Launch Movie Poster

Failure to Launch

Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Tom Dey
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates
Released by: Paramount Pictures

In Short: Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker lead a blast of a cast in this formulaic yet frothy comedy.

Three, two, one...
Frothy Fun for Thirtysomethings
By Andrew Bender

Has this happened to you as often as it’s happened to us? You’re out on a date, it’s going smashingly well—holding hands, feeding each other cake—and before you know it you’re at your date’s house. In the bedroom. Niiiice! And just as it’s getting hottest and heaviest, your date’s dad walks in to say hi.

Matthew McConaughey in Failure to Launch
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey in Failure to Launch

Actually, that’s never happened to us, but it happens all the time to Trip (Matthew McConaughey). Trip is 35 and still lives with his parents (Kathy Bates and football great Terry Bradshaw), and he uses this technique to get his dates to run screaming whenever they try to get too close emotionally.

Enter Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), known in Trip’s parents’ circles as the woman who can wean these man-boys from their parents’ suckle; she calls this full-nest syndrome a "failure to launch." Moms and dads hire her to meet their sons, date them, and give them the self-esteem to forge out on their own. With her, it’s a business. No actual love changes hands.

Kathy Bates in Failure to Launch
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey in Failure to Launch

This being a formula story, of course you know from the get-go that things will be different for Paula and Trip: of course they’ll fall in love, of course there’ll be complications, and of course they’ll get resolved. But hey, when the formula works, it works.

Part of the reason it works is that the supporting cast has both funny and meaningful things to do. Bates and Bradshaw make an adorable couple. Justin Bartha and Bradley Cooper, as Trip’s activity buds (who also live with their parents, wouldn’t you know it?), combine new-age derring-do and only-in-Guyland goofball-ness. And we hope Zooey Deschanel gets lots more work after her deadpan stint as Paula’s roommate.

McConaughey, meanwhile, is the most natural we’ve seen him in ages. This role allows him to show off his electric smile, his eyes (almost as bright), and enough of his torso to keep his admirers happy. And Parker always seems a natural... even in this unnatural story.

(Updated 08/30/07 NJ)

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