Failure to Launch

Failure to Launch.
Paramount Pictures 2005.

Before watching the movie:

I’ve seen this poster everywhere, but the movie doesn’t seem to actually get talked about much. I don’t even remember seeing trailers for it when it was in theaters.

The parents of a late bloomer hire a relationship expert for their son and no doubt they end up together in a very familiar romantic comedy progression. I wonder if there’s a bit of a Pygmalion element to the plot as well.

After watching the movie:

Tripp is 35 and still lives with his parents, which he uses as a fast escape whenever his relationships begin to get too serious, bringing his girlfriends home to awkward first meetings with them. His parents, desperate to retire from being parents, hire Paula, who believes that the way to get men to get on with an independent life is through building their self esteem, and to that end, fakes relationships with her clients to make them feel good about themselves. However, while her script for the relationship is playing out fine, Tripp doesn’t seem to have a problem with self-esteem, and Paula needs to improvise.Which leads to things she hadn’t planned on.

I had understood the summary I read to mean that Paula would be coaching Tripp, and the dramatic irony would be that they lose their professional distance together. It would’ve been a pretty typical romance where the couple accidentally fall in love while working together professionally. This is a little more chaotic and unexpected, with deception causing things to spiral out of control. It’s fresher, and comes to a more honest yet unorthodox conclusion.

I especially liked the subplot with Paula’s roommate Kit. Zooey Deschanel has a reputation for playing characters that see the world from an unusual angle and are full of exuberance, but Kit is generally bad at emotions and spends most of the movie fixated on the bird that decided her bedroom window is the perfect place to scream all night. Women in general rarely get to have stunted emotions, especially conventionally pretty women.

It seems like this movie made some impression, but it’s not a beloved classic. Maybe a classic should be more timeless, but this is certainly unique enough to be one.

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