Ok, I have no idea how I ended up paying to see "A Failure to Launch", but it happened. I am clearly not the target audience for a Matthew McConaughey/Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy, but alas the sacrifices of marriage.
So it was with a feeling of queasy dread in my stomach (or was that movie theatre hot dog?) that I sat down to watch the subject of my latest guiltless review.
Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is a thirtysomething successful boat broker/salesperson who is nevertheless still living at home with his parents (the always terrific Kathy Bates and a surprisingly good Terry Bradshaw). In an effort to push him out of the nest, the parents hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who sells her services as a professional girlfriend to the shut-ins of the world (not as skanky as it sounds), with the end goal being to motivate her client to move out of his parents' house.
Ok reality check; ignore the posters - this is not a romantic comedy. This isn't even close to being a romantic comedy, in fact neither of the 2 principle characters appear to have a romantic bone in their body. The 'romance' in the movie is completely secondary to the comedy. I didn't care in the least whether Trip & Paula ended up together. Now that being said . . .
I kinda liked them, Trip & Paula are both defined in broad strokes, so if your looking for nuance look elsewhere. Trip is a guy who gets by on his looks and charm and is completely unavailable emotionally to women. Paula is a take charge professional who's attitude masks some deep relationship scars. Both can seem kinda cold & heartless at times, which I can relate to, especially considering each character's emotional baggage. No, they aren't externally romantic, but to me that just makes the relationship between them a little more real.
The real star of the movie, though is Kit played by Zooey Deschanel. To say the movie becomes more watchable whenever she's onscreen is an understatement. Kit is disturbed; sarcastic and prone to extreme and occasionally violent mood swings. She is openly hostile to the world, including her roomate Paula. Of course all of this masks a voracious sexual appetite. Yes, she is my perfect woman. If I were to know her in real life my marriage would be in serious trouble.
A decent amount of laughs, most of which coming courtesy of Ms. Deschanel. Her berating of a sporting goods clerk is priceless. There's also some quality slapstick in a paintgun scene.
Ok, wasn't expecting this score to be so high, but there is some really head-scratchingly disturbing stuff in this movie.
First of all, we see Terry Bradshaw's naked butt. Not just a quick cut of it either, but a long 10 or so seconds of it in focus.
Also there is a ridiculous sub-plot about Trip's living condition being 'out of touch' with nature. As a result, Trip is frequently bitten by normally benign animals like chipmunks and dolphins. These animal attack scenes aren't particularly funny, but the sheer audacity of including something this bizarre in a mainstream comedy gets my respect. Most filmakers would just resign these to the 'deleted scenes' section of the dvd.
Plot is fairly cookie-cutter romantic comedy, though it was fun to see Kit's romance with one of Trip's buddies unfold.
Not an overwhelmingly memorable movie, but fun nontheless. I'd certainly take "A Failure to Launch" over most of the so-called romantic comedies I've been dragged to over the years.