2006-03-31 / Columnists


By Robert Snyder

Hollywood taps once again into the phenomenon of male arrested development with "Failure to Launch."

While the soon-to-be-on-DVD "The 40 Year Old Virgin" is funny and full of laughs, "Launch" never takes off as a comedy, despite the charisma oozing from its stars, Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, in the lead roles. In fact, any humor to be found comes from co-stars Zooey Deschanel, Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw.

Limply directed by Tom Dey, "Launch" has People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" McConaughey as Tripp, a 35-year-old boat broker still living at home with Mom and Dad (Bates and Bradshaw). He uses his parental bed-and-bath relationship to keep girlfriends noncommittal. "The reason he's bringing girls to dinner is because he's breaking up with them," says Momma Sue (Bates).

Desperate to boot Tripp from the nest, the parents hire empty-nester-maker Paula to cast a calculated spell on Tripp to convince him that life is better with a cut umbilical cord. Her method is to have the problem adult-child fall in love with her, prepare a living arrangement together, and then dump him when successfully weaned. All goes well until love actually enters the picture on Paula's part, culminating in sexual intercourse (a big professional no-no).

However, Tripp catches on to Paula's plot. At a special dinner he cooks at home, he calls her bluff with a marriage proposal, which includes continuing their life together under the parental roof. He ends the proposition by turning to Mom and Dad and saying, "This way you won't have to pay her."The now serious film has Tripp turning meaner as he later tells a tongue-tied Paula to "Get the f-k out of my car."

Under a stronger director, "Launch" may have attained the dramatic intensity of "The Graduate." But, no. The final act has Tripp bound and subjected to Paula's apologies as his friends and some folks at a restaurant watch through a big-screen surveillance system.

The few funny bits in the film are courtesy of Deschanel playing Paula's manic-depressive roommate along with the put-upon-parent shtick from Bates and Bradshaw.It should be noted that Bradshaw has an unfortunate nude scene, the memory of which audience members may have trouble erasing.

Unless you're major fans of McConaughey and Parker, I suggest you wait for the "Failure to Launch" DVD. Or better yet, pick up "The 40 Year Old Virgin" for some real laughs.

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