Some guys introduce their girlfriends to their parents when they want to get serious about a relationship. But not Tripp, the athletic ladies' man played by Matthew McConaughey in Failure to Launch. When he thinks a girlfriend is getting too serious, he takes her back to his place—where she soon discovers that he still lives with his parents, and that his father is prone to wandering into his bedroom even when Tripp is, um, entertaining a lady. Inevitably, the girlfriend is shocked, and angry, and leaves—and Tripp is free to play the field once again, while his mother keeps looking after his laundry, his room, and his food.
The experts who study these things say that as many as two out of five people in their 20s and early 30s are "adultescents," living like teenagers in their parents' homes while enjoying lives of relative luxury—driving nice cars, going on vacations and doing various other things that are possible when you've got a grown-up income but you don't have to worry about certain basic living expenses. The subject is certainly ripe for a movie, even a romantic comedy, but Failure to Launch drops the ball almost immediately, by relying on the sorts of gags and tricks that never occur anywhere but on the big screen.
Take, for example, Tripp's romantic foil, a woman named Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who asks him out on a date—or asks him to ask her out, or something like that—when they meet in a furniture store. Unbeknownst to Tripp, Paula is a professional "interventionist" who is hired by parents to get cozy with their grown-up sons and thereby draw them out of the nest; she even has a list of "steps" to go through, such as "emotional crisis day," that are designed to form emotional ...1