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HTF HD-DVD Review: Failure to Launch


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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

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Posted April 20 2007 - 11:33 AM


Failure to Launch (HD-DVD)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: PG13 (Sexual content, partial nudity and language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: VC-1
Audio: English, French, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; English SDH
Time: 96 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL HD-DVD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date:2006
HD-DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007

Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is living the life: he’s got a swell pad, video games on his wide screen TV, his mom does his laundry and cooks for him and he gets to hang out with his buddies whenever he wants. The only problem is Tripp is 35…and he still lives at home. But he doesn’t see this as an issue since he’s known no other way of life and he believes his parents still want him around. When his parents get together with some friends of theirs in similar circumstances, they make the decision to kick Tripp out of the nest. Not surprisingly (at least in the world of this picture) they find a girl who can accommodate this need for a fee: Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker). Paula runs a business of being hired to befriend these clutching lads and build their confidence to a level where they finally move out. Tripp is not so easily swayed and he usually uses the parental units as a way to end relationships when the gals get too serious and threaten his lifestyle. Paula sees Tripp as a special case, and she utilizes her roommate Kit (Zooey Deschanel) as a sounding board to her progress. Kit is a trippy slacker grrrll who is more concerned with an annoying mockingbird than Paula’s business troubles. As Paula spends more time with Tripp, she learns that there is more to Tripp’s life than she initially suspected, and her most difficult case may wind up being her most personal as well.
I love it when Hollywood cranks out their newest “romantic comedy” only to have the audience find it neither romantic nor funny. As was clearly the case here, somebody got what could have been a decent script and gave it to a director who really didn’t know what the heck to do with it. The jokes fall flat; the actors seem to be trying extra hard to coax a smile out of the audience while at the same time realizing there’s just no way to make it any better. Terry Bradshaw, of all people, shows up as Tripp’s dad and provides a surreal post-retirement attitude by setting up a “naked room” for him to, you guessed it, walk around in naked. Zooey Deschanel’s Kit winds up being morose and snotty as a Gen-Whatever who’s just looking for love, although she’d never just tell you that. The whole Kit subplot actually takes up about half the movie, and it just goes to show how thin and weak the “A story” really is.
About the only redeeming aspect of the picture is Tripp’s interaction with his two friends, Ace and Demo (Justin Bartha and Bradley Cooper, respectively). The boys enjoy partaking in numerous extreme sports together and share the same domestic arrangements. There is also an oddball analogy regarding Tripp’s place in nature and how he has upset the balance, but this at least provides a couple laughs.


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 12-S4 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 720p. I am using a Toshiba HD-A1 for a player and utilizing the HDMI capabilities of both units.

The picture is correctly framed at 2.35:1, and it is encoded in VC-1 at 1080p. This is a nice picture, with good contrast and nice saturation in the flesh tones. McConaughey has quite a tan in the picture, and you can see the differences between him and anyone he is standing near. With the SD-DVD, the foreground detail was good, but background and fine detail was murky at times. The HD-DVD improves on this only slightly and I had expected a little better. Black levels are good and there is a fair amount of detail in the shadows. Edge enhancement is not noticeable. I did not notice any compression artifacts or video noise, nor was there any film dirt.


Audio:
The Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack was attained by a 5.1 analog connection.

I watched the disc with the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track engaged. As was expected, there was not a lot of activity in the surround mix, with the surrounds opening up only a couple times when there were music cues or environmental effects. When the surrounds did engage they combined to produce and enveloping sound field. LFE’s perked up in the music cues, but the rest of the soundtrack is fairly thin in the lower frequencies. ADR was not noticed, and the voices had a natural sound to them. This mix exhibits more presence than the SD-DVD’s DD track, and it also a bit louder.


Bonus Material:
With the advent of HD-DVD, we are faced with several different audio and video codecs being used on each disc. Due to this, I have begun adding the encoding details as part of the explanation of bonus features when applicable and relevant. For this release, the extras are in MPEG-2 encoding unless otherwise noted.

Casting Off: The Making of Failure to Launch (11:37): the actors talk about the central plot of the picture and the characters motivations. I got a good laugh when the writers compared the picture to classic Billy Wilder. The actors also fawn over one another.

The Failure to Launch Phenomenon (11:18): A discussion of the social ramifications of real life Tripp’s and interviews with them and they’re enablers. However, the real-life ones just aren’t as cool. Or as good looking.

Dating in the New Millennium (6:52): various relationship authors and “experts in the dating field” discuss how dating patterns and practices have changed. There are clips from various speed dating gatherings and group dinners. This segment may have been borrowed from “The View”.

Moviefone.com Unscripted with Matthew McConaughey and Terry Bradshaw (13:36): the two actors answer questions from fans about their roles, their co-stars and the movie. This is a fun doc since the guys joke around with one another and discuss some of their life philosophies.

The Failure to Launch Contest (5:54): Bradley Cooper and Justin Bartha interview three finalists from a contest to find the biggest “failure to launch”. The winner gets six months of free rent!

Theatrical Trailer: In VC-1 at 1080p

Conclusions:
Overall, this is a pretty lousy movie, but there are a few laughs here and there. I tend to find McConaughey’s laid-back attitude, both on screen and off, interesting and humorous. The HD-DVD gives us a nice presentation (with only a slight improvement over the SD-DVD) with a few extras to satisfy the casual viewer.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.