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Movie Review: ‘Hall Pass’

February 25, 2011
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“You get what you get, now don’t throw a fit”-Ancient kindergarten teacher proverb.

I am constantly amused when people attend a Farrelly Brothers film and are SHOCKED to find out that it is filled with bathroom humor and precious little in the way of plot. What do you expect people?  When you go to a Farrelly Brothers film, you know exactly what you are going to get.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly carved out a new niche for comedy in 1998 when they released Something About Mary. The film’s raunchy humor was dubbed “gross-out humor”, and though they have replicated the formula many times, they have never really duplicated the level of success they had with that first film.

It’s doubtful that this will be the film to do that, though it is a nice departure from their usual fare. Don’t worry, you’ll still find male protagonists suffering from man-child syndrome, plenty of tits, dirty jokes, poop humor, and the like. Not that I’m complaining. I’d be disappointed if those things were missing.

Owen Wilson stars as Rick, a suburban father and husband who has gotten bogged down by how mundane his domestic life has become. Sensing his discontent (and disgusted with his constant neck -craning whenever an attractive female is within range), wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) gives him a week long hall pass from their marriage.  A dream come true, right guys?

Things seem even better when his best pal Fred (Jason Sudeikis) gets a similar reprieve, granted by his shrill wife Grace (Christina Applegate). The two men are like kids in a candy store, visiting all the hot spots like Applebee’s to pick up chicks. That’s right, the dolts don’t really have a clue as to what to do with their newfound freedom.

They’re completely inept at picking up women. All talk and no action, so to speak. Ironically, it is the wives who take full and true advantage of the pact.

Of course, the movie wouldn’t be half as fun if they were smooth Lotharios.  The men bumble through a variety of mishaps over the course of the week, but ultimately discover that the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence; they’re happy with their wives after all.

There’s plenty of the usual gross gags you’ve come to expect. Sharting actually takes place in one scene. If you don’t know what that is, I’m not going to be the one to tell you. Hall Pass is pure Farrelly brothers, with a more grown up message.

It’s nice to see Owen Wilson in this role. He looks happy and healthy, and serves as the moral compass of the movie. Jason Sudeikis can make me laugh by sneezing, so I found him hilarious. He plays the buddy role well. Christina Applegate, per usual, has great comedic timing and an acerbic bite. Jenna Fischer is pleasant, though fades into the background a bit.

There are some great supporting players including Richard Jenkins as a man trying to coach the men in the art of the pick up, and Stephen Merchant (Extras) as a friend who goads the men on in their quest for women. Joy Behar appears as Dr. Lucy, who persuades the women to give the hall pass to the men in the first place. Alyssa Milano, J.B. Smoove, Vanessa Angel and Nicky Whelan also appear in the film.

Farrelly  fans won’t be disappointed, but the film is unlikely to make any new fans. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the team at this point in their career; no more, no less.

Rating 2.5/5  Hall Pass is rated R. Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Starring Christina Applegate, Jenna Fischer, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Richard Jenkins, Nicky Whelan, and Stephen Merchant.

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