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Hall Pass (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 18

Hall Pass

Hall Pass

HALL PASS (2011)

Starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Nicky Whelan, Alexandra Daddario, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant, Tyler Hoechlin, Larry Joe Campbell, Bruce Thomas, Joy Behar, Derek Waters, Rob Moran, Lauren Bowles, Christa Campbell, Macsen Lintz, Kristin Carey, JB Smoove, Andrew Wilson, Vanessa Angel and Alyssa Milano.

Screenplay by Pete Jones, Bobby Farrelly, Kevin Barnett and Peter Farrelly.

Directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly.

Distributed by New Line Cinema.  105 minutes.  Rated R.

Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s Hall Pass blows the lid off of this not-so-well-kept secret – that men like looking at attractive women.  Even men who are in completely, blissfully happy in love with their wives can be total dogs when a hot woman walks past.  What of it?

The movie also drops the not-exactly-shocking knowledge that left to their own devices women are much more likely to score with strange men than the other way around. Who’d’ve thunk it?

The Farrellys’ career has been on a constant downward spiral in the twelve years since their masterpiece There’s Something About Mary.  (Well, that is using the term “masterpiece” rather charitably, but it is their finest moment as filmmakers and not coincidentally is also by far their biggest hit).  It has been several years now since the Farrelly had to cede the title of Kings of Dumb comedies to Judd Apatow.

During that time, the Farrellys’ have been serving up the warmed over likes of Shallow Hal, Osmosis Jones, Stuck on You, Me Myself & Irene and the awful remake of The Heartbreak Kid.

So the good news is that Hall Pass actually is the Farrelly Brothers’ best movie since Mary.

The bad news is that it still isn’t all that good.

Still, Hall Pass does have some rather good moments – which is better than many of the above listed films can say.

Hall Pass derives from an exceedingly simple premise. Two long-married suburban husbands (Owen Wilson and Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis) are essentially extremely content in their domestic situations, but they just can’t help themselves when it comes to checking out women and talking about sex. To teach them a lesson, their wives (Jenna Fisher and Christina Applegate) decide to give them a week of complete no-questions-asked sexual freedom – assuming that the guys have been off the market for so long that they would not have any idea how to approach a woman, much less score with them.

And in the world of the movie, the wives are right. The guys are lost from the start, making their first stop the local Applebee’s. I know it’s supposed to be a joke and all, but it just demeans the characters. No man – no matter how swaddled (or whipped) in domestic bliss he might be – could ever be so far out of touch that he would think the Applebee’s is a good pick-up joint.

In the meantime, the ladies go off to a Cape Cod resort and get hit on by lots of young ball players.

After days of the guys not even trying to meet women, they finally hook up with their legendary womanizer of a friend who turns out to be kind of a pathetic middle-aged lothario (a slumming Richard Jenkins). He helps Sudeikis to get some opportunities that all seem to go awry. Particularly uncalled for was a scene in a hotel bathroom.  I won’t tell you what happens, but trust me: it’s not something anyone wants to see.  The Farrellys may think it’s this movie’s “hair gel” moment, but instead it plays like a bad Kevin Smith rip-off.

However, in the midst of all of their striking out, Wilson’s character actually starts making a little headway – with an astonishingly tolerant Australian coffee-shop barista (Nicky Whelan) and his kids’ crushing college-aged babysitter (Alexandra Daddario).

Which puts him in a bit of a moral dilemma – if he loves his wife does he really want to take advantage of the opportunity that may be presenting itself?

Of course, the Farrellys don’t trust the drama of the moment to play out by itself, so they throw a whole load of ridiculous obstacles in the way – including the barista’s crazy stalker, a car crash, cops, a horny aunt and a sensitive baseball coach who just may be making a move on Wilson’s wife.

The ending is rather frantic and not overly funny, however there are just enough good moments mixed in with the bad to make Hall Pass worth a rental when it is released on video. There’s probably not all that much point in wasting a trip to the theater for it, though.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2011 All rights reserved. Posted: June 14, 2011.


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