Desperate times call for desperate measures, and nothing reeks of despair quite like parents conspiring against their own feeble offspring — particularly those 20- or 30-something children who can’t seem to move away from home.
Such is the plot of “Failure to Launch,” a romantic comedy that explores a growing social phenomenon plaguing many American households today: “adultescents” — or adult children — who are marked by their reluctance to strike out on their own.
“There’s a [trend] happening right now of kids getting older but not necessarily moving out of the house,” said Matthew McConaughey, who plays Tripp, a 35-year-old boat broker who still lives with his parents, mooches their food and avoids responsibility at any cost.
“As far as [my character] is concerned, you don’t fix what isn’t broken,” the actor explained. “It’s a free ride. He’s got a great room, and mom does the laundry. It’s like a great hotel.”
“Everybody knows somebody who is still living at home,” director Tom Dey, the filmmaker behind “Shanghai Noon” and “Showtime,” said in a press release. “Tripp isn’t passive about the fact he lives at home — [in fact], he champions not having left the nest.”
The film also stars Oscar-winner Kathy Bates (“Misery”) and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw as Tripp’s fed-up parents, who hire “Sex and the City” vixen Sarah Jessica Parker to tempt their son — hopefully — into moving into his own place.
“I liked the idea of this epidemic of not-so-young men still living at home,” Parker said. She portrays Paula, a professional consultant who has made a living out of luring men out of their childhood abodes.
Never one to mix business with pleasure, Paula starts developing feelings for the laid-back late-bloomer, and emotions start to cloud her better judgment.
“The rules fly out of the window,” Parker said. “[Tripp becomes] the exception to all the rules.”
Well known as a “man’s man,” McConaughey enjoyed all the physical aspects of the three-month shoot, including mountain biking, rock climbing and surfing with both real and animatronic dolphins off the coast of Delaware. But the scene that the actor most enjoyed was a paintball scene that had the cast running around in 100-plus degree heat in New Orleans in late July. Having to brave the elements, however, was less pleasurable for Parker.
“That was my least favorite day of filming,” the actress recalled, laughing. “It was about 100 percent humidity and I had a wig, a helmet, a full-body jumpsuit and a face mask on, running around with a gun … so yeah, there was a lot about it I didn’t care for.”
“We were pretty much baking,” agreed Justin Bartha (“National Treasure”), who along with McConaughey and Bradley Cooper (“Wedding Crashers”), comprise the trio of slackers in “Failure to Launch.”
One of the breakout stars in the film, oddly enough, happens to be Bradshaw, who has spent the last 25 years playing bit parts (often as himself) in TV sitcoms like “Malcolm in the Middle” and “8 Simple Rules … for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” With “Failure” as his first big-screen starring role, the NFL Hall of Famer wanted to go all-out. He certainly seems to have done just that: He shot a scene in the buff.
“In the past, I’ve usually been cast as Terry Bradshaw the football player, but I don’t want to do that [anymore],” the 57-year-old sports icon said. “I really want those parts that are meaningful and that you can [have fun with].”
The novice actor even earned praise from Bates, a seasoned actress who had some concerns about her co-star prior to filming. “You worry that he’s going to be a pain and that it’s going to take him so long to get it down,” said Bates, “but he’s really smart and quick, and good with adlibs.”
“I can act better, I just never have,” Bradshaw retorted playfully about his past roles. “Here is how you look at my performance: let the stars be stars and let the little people, like me, go in and go out.”
“No flags on the play,” Bates quipped, lending her own football analogy.
“No flags,” agreed Bradshaw. “That’s the way I looked at it.”
“Failure to Launch” lands in theaters Friday.
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