The Jessica Journals:

March 27, 2006: Failure To Satisfy

If there is one thing guaranteed to make me want to rip my eyes out in sheer, unadulterated horror it is the words "Hillary [Clinton] still has sexual power". Sexual? Power? Still? My eyes! My brain! My fragile psyche!

Which word in the title is the correct answer? So, how does one combat the horror? The answer should be obvious, one goes to the cinema in the hopes of diverting one's attention. As we are all, no doubt, aware movie choices are very thin at the present, and, having already watched V For Vendetta my choices were reduced to Firewall or Failure To Launch, and Sarah Jessica Parker didn't appear in What Lies Beneath.

What do you mean I look old?  But I'm wearing this youthful paintballing helmet! As we are all no doubt aware, Failure To Launch tells the tale of one, Tripp, a thirty-something-year-old still living with his parents. In an effort to alter this situation, his parents hire Paula, a woman who earns her living romancing adult-men-living-at-home to the point that they move out at which time she promptly dumps them, unless, of course, the man in question is Matthew McConaughey, in which case she falls in love with him and experiences the forced situations of a light-hearted romantic comedy before linking herself permanently to a person with whom she has no chemistry.

Matthew McConaughey is cute in a hemped-up, somewhat surfer-dude-esque way that is, no doubt, typical of nude bongo drummers. SJP is still causing teen boys to lust after Barry Pepper.

And that, I think is the point at which the movie starts to fall apart. It is a well-known fact that for a romantic comedy to work the two leads have to possess intense personal pulchritude. This is light-hearted fluff we're talking about. Audience members aren't coming to engage in intense brainwork. We don't want to be forced to parse the vagaries of human character and personality as we watch two average-looking people seek their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual counterparts and overcome the conflicts that arise as they try to make their two lives one. We want to be reassured that 1 Pretty Person + Another Pretty Person = True And Lasting Love (as comedy ensues).

Tied in with the above issue is the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker is forty years old and looks forty years old. This, in and of itself would not necessarily be a problem, but it becomes a problem when the movie decides to blithely ignore this critical aspect of its female lead and brazenly treat her as if she is in her late-twenties/early-thirties.

Needless to say, the makers of Failure To Launch do not appear to have been overly concerned by the above mentioned problems. Being creators of romantic-comedy, they didn't try to give us characters who had any depth to them or a story that had anything insightful to say, and being lazy creators of romantic-comedy they were content to follow their genre's formula regardless of the deficiencies of one of their leads. No doubt, they were hoping that the audience would be sufficiently amused by the scene in which an injured bird is given CPR.

It made me laugh.

Of course, when all is said and done, I still left the theatre wondering why Matt McC decided his Happily Ever After should involve the ubiquitous presence of Sarah Jessica Parker. She wasn't pretty, had no personality to speak of, and was, in fact, quite vapid. Perhaps the answer is simply, like Hillary, she still has sexual power.



Copyright 2006 Jessica Menn