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Paramount Home Video presents
Failure to Launch HD-DVD (2006)

Paula: So....you live with your parents?
Tripp: Is that a problem?

- Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew McConaughey

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: April 24, 2007

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker
Other Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates
Director: Tom Dey

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and language
Run Time: 01h:36m:13s
Release Date: April 24, 2007
UPC: 032429016560
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The romantic comedy paradigm is certainly well established, from the meet cute to the well-meaning deception to the romantic realization after a misunderstanding. That formula is applied with postmodern cynicism in Failure to Launch, a distasteful pastiche that chronicles the travails of an aggregation of unlikeable characters who deserve a gruesome death rather than a romantic denouement.

Emotionally stunted ladies' man Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) still lives with his parents, Al (Terry Bradshaw) and Sue (Kathy Bates), despite being in his mid-thirties. Inspired by the success of some friends in getting their aged son to finally move out, Al and Sue hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) to get Tripp to fall in love with her, grow up and move out at last. But when it comes down to the crunch, Paula finds herself falling for Tripp herself, despite her best efforts to keep a professional detachment.

There isn't much to like or relate to here, unless you're a parent resenting the fact your middle-aged children are still sponging off of you. Given the unlikeability of the characters as scripted, the casting of Parker and stiff pretty boy McConaughey is spot on. While most romantic comedies have the audience hoping the leads will eventually get together, one can only pray that these two stay far apart, lest they breed. Bradshaw and Bates do manage a few good moments in support of this misguided project, but their thinly drawn characters don't offer them much opportunity. It doesn't help that they do an inexplicable 180 in their attitude toward Tripp, first happily enabling his behavior and then conspiring to get him to leave voluntarily rather than simply dealing with him in any kind of adult manner.

Even though the romantic comedy genre can be amusing, the comedy aspect seems to have been forgotten by the creators of this picture. The laughs are few and far between, mostly relying upon animal cruelty and animatronic animal attacks. Whatever goodwill these moments might generate is instantly cancelled by the regrettably manipulative behavior of the leads. Even when they offer some human emotion towards the end, there's no sympathy generated. Consistent with the ill nature of the screenplay, there's plenty of cruel mockery both of Tripp's friends and other socially maladjusted men. That's particularly true in a nasty sequence where we see Paula plying her trade with a Star Wars geek. Even the closest thing to a sympathetic character, Paula's roommate Kit (Zooey Deschanel), demands a mockingbird singing outside her window be shot. And if Paula is so well-adjusted, why is she living with a roommate in the first place?

Hollywood can still make entertaining romantic comedies. I suggest you seek out one of those, and leave Failure to Launch on the shelf where it belongs.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.20:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The transfer is colorful but somewhat soft and lacking in fine detail, especially when Parker is in the frame. A persistent soft focus seems to be the main problem. Color is very rich and black levels are fine. Shadow detail is quite good. The frequent sequences on water look very naturalistic. Edge enhancement is occasionally visible but not too prominent.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 DD+ soundtrack has plenty of presence and sounds clean and natural. The surrounds are mostly used for the background score. The score tries to impart a sense of whimsy to the leaden proceedings, with little success. Dialogue is quite center-oriented. It's not flashy but it gets the job done.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra in HD is the theatrical trailer. The extras are an assortment of largely content-free featurettes. Casting Off: The Making of Failure to Launch (11m:41s) is standard EPK fluff. The Failure to Launch Phenomenon (11m:22s) is not, as one might surmise, about the nonexistent popularity of the film, but about the issue of parents who are for whatever reason unable to get their adult children to move out and move on. It fails, however, to offer any useful suggestions or consider it as much more than a freak show exhibit. Dating in the New Millenium (6m:56s) covers Internet and other kinds of dating in a manner that makes one wonder how anyone ends up together. Moviefone.com Unscripted with Matthew and Terry (13m:38s) is a chatty conversation between the two male leads that indicates that they had a lot more fun making the movie than comes across on the screen. Finally, The Failure to Leave Contest (5m:58s) tries to locate the most pathetic example of the title situation possible. On the whole, it's quantity over quality.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A romantic comedy that manages to be neither romantic nor funny, Failure to Launch can be safely avoided. The transfer is reasonably good, but the copious extras are mostly fluff.


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