Living up to its title, ‘Launch’ fails as a movie in general let alone a romantic comedy. Hobbled at the knee right from the get go with a rather lame setup, the stars try their best to inject some energy and warmth into the material but its pure sitcom formula down to stupid running gags about animal behavior to ‘cutely quirky’ supporting characters who are much more interesting than our somewhat bland leads.
The fundamental flaw is of course the premise. A 35-year-old man living with his parents may not be common in western society but its certainly believable – a lot of people live with their parents all their lives for understandable reasons of economy, emotional or health care needs. No compelling reason is given here though for someone like McConaughey’s character – very good looking, socially functional, financially independent, emotionally stable – to be living with his parents other than ‘he feels like it’ (and this is despite their desire to have him leave).
Not only that, he’s got two best friends in pretty much the same position and it’s the focal point of the reason that these guys stay together. The writers at least have a hint of the ridiculousness of the setup, allowing the parents to act as the audience’s entry point into the story – the pair are after all the most believable and fun characters in the film, and the pairing of Terry Bradshaw and Kathy Bates proves a marvelous match.
Yet, too much time is spent going back to our main duo who follow one bland and predictable plot point after another, to the point that only pre-schoolers won’t be able to tell where this is going to end up. Rather than actually trying to instill any freshness or credibility to the story, let alone real romance, the filmmakers try a lot of sequences to induce laughter – it doesn’t work. From a sassy kid to the ubiquitous group activity (in this case paint ball) it all serves only to take up time rather than to produce hilarity.
When it gets desperate however it goes for the truly lame – animal attacks. From lizards to dolphins and even a bird in need of CPR, there’s plenty of joke sequences about animal cruelty which just aren’t funny. With the exception of the parents and side characters like Zooey Deschanel’s droll comic foil or Justin Bartha’s somewhat neurotic geek delivering the odd laugh, everything about the film is so generic, pedestrian and just plain ridiculous that only the most forgiving of date movie patrons will get into it – and even then only if their date puts out.