Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Late Review: Failure to Launch

Failure to Launch
Director: Tom Dey
Screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember
Paramount Pictures

Yes, it's a waste of time to watch and review Failure to Launch. The romantic comedy, of all the genres, has exhausted every angle in telling the story of two people meeting and falling in love, breaking up over something stupid, and getting back together again for the happy ending. You want to see the romantic comedy that has endured the test of time and still would be refreshing today, it's Annie Hall. Lately, the only romantic comedies that have actually soared at the box office are the ones where the writers have put in an oddball premise--Hitch, the awful How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and this picture have something in common--they've made love a marketable commodity. Hitch is a love doctor, helping men who could never score with hot women do so, while falling in love himself, in How to Lose... Kate Hudson is a magazine writer involving herself in a relationship to get a story, and in this, Sarah Jessica Parker is a woman whose business is getting men who haven't left their parents to fly from home.

Yes, of course, even though this is just a business to Paula (Parker), she's never met anyone as dreamy as Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) in this line of work. And so, just like all romances based on false pretenses, real love grows, and will eventually cause the stupid breakup later when the truth is revealed. Luckily, they've got friends!

The romantic comedy is (sorry, Jonathan) the Chicago Cubs of Hollywood. There is no reason to change the formula, or try anything different, because its core audience will always go watch the product. Seriously, have you ever heard a big fan of this genre watch one of these movies and say, "Wow, that was really terrible!" No, you haven't, because to say one is terrible is to say all of them are terrible. The romantic comedy merely finds two stars who haven't mated on screen before, lumps them into a patchwork script, and sells it as brand new. If this movie had any balls, it would have focused on the relationship between Zooey Deschanel's character Kit (friend of Paula) and Justin Bartha's Ace (friend of Tripp's). That's where true comedic gold lies, but here, it's just a scene or two for a cheap laugh. But is the average romantic comedy lover going to go watch a Deschanel/Bartha vehicle? Of course they aren't. You need stars. But you see funnier movies in the subplots of these things, and it's always a missed opportunity.


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