Tripp is a 35-year old man with a decent job and a pretty active love life. But whenever he starts to feel like the woman is becoming a little too serious about him, he brings her home where she meets his parents, Sue and Al. Once she realizes Tripp still lives with them, he’s promptly dumped. It’s a system that works for Tripp, but not for Al and Sue, who are more than ready for Tripp to leave the nest and move on with his life so they can move on with theirs. They eventually learn of an expert named Paula who believes that men stay with their parents due to low self-esteem and her job is to build their confidence in order to get them to move out. Things become complicated when Paula and Tripp begin to develop real feelings for each other.
The premise alone is pretty vile… a woman dating men under the pretense of being genuinely interested in them just to trick them into moving out of their parents’ house. And it’s implied that Paula’s motivation for creating this brand of business was that some guy broke her heart… a guy who still lived at home with his parents.
It also solidifies the thought that guys who live at home are lazy, nerdy, and suffering from low self-esteem. That’s why Tripp is such a challenge for Paula. He’s good-looking, has a good job, and doesn’t seem to be lacking at all in the confidence department. And because he’s seemingly a “normal” guy, Paula falls in love with him. It’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it.
But putting that aside, the biggest problem this movie had was the complete lack of chemistry between Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey. There was no heat, no passion, nothing. Nada. I was not invested in their relationship whatsoever. McConaughey was his usual charming self, but Parker was just… boring. Paula was boring. I have no idea if it’s simply the way Paula was written, or if it was Sarah Jessica Parker’s acting. I wonder what this movie could have been if they had found a different actress for the role, but alas.
As it happens with many romantic comedies, the supporting characters carried the weight of the movie and provided the only real entertainment. Justin Bartha and Bradley Cooper play Tripp’s best friends, Ace and Demo (yes, those are their names), who also live in their parents’ house (for different reasons). I genuinely enjoyed Tripp’s scenes with them a heck of a lot more than his budding romance with Paula. Zooey Deschanel is hilarious as Kit, Paula’s dry-witted roommate who is at war with a songbird outside of her bedroom window. She more or less steals every scene she’s in with her performance, and her side-romance with Ace is the highlight of the entire film. Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw are Tripp’s long-suffering parents and yes, even they were more fun to watch than Tripp and Paula.
Failure to Launch is a pretty by-the-book, formulaic romantic comedy that suffers from a lack of chemistry between the two leads, mindless physical gags, and an ending that felt way too easy. I’m giving this two stars for the supporting cast and the supporting cast alone.