This review is for entertainment purposes only. Hand dipped in lavish vanilla white chocolate, this review is candy coated with succulent sarcasm and should be consumed immediately.
(Gives you major gas though.)
I’m not exactly sure what happened with the Farrelly Brothers. They came out of nowhere and knocked it out of the park with Dumb & Dumber, a film I still consider one of the greatest comedies ever made, and had a nice followup with Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. Me, Myself & Irene and Stuck On You have great moments but the brothers seemed to crash and burn with movies like Fever Pitch and the disgustingly unfunny Heartbreak Kid, a film I still consider one of the worst comedies ever made. Can they reclaim their former glory with Hall Pass? C’mon silly reader, let’s find out!
Best friends Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) have been married for years and their wives, played by The Office‘s Jenna Fischer and that Christina Applegate chick, have begun to notice slight changes in their behavior that make them think their husbands could cheat on them if given the opportunity. Taking advice from their friend played by Joy Behar, that View chick who looks like Lion-O, the wives give their husbands a hall pass, a week off from marriage to do whatever they want while the girls go visit family at a beach home. Can the now single fellas reclaim their former college glory days and nail some women with this new found freedom? Will the wives, themselves now free from marriage for a week, stay faithful?
Hall Pass raises some interesting questions about marriage, loyalty, trust, friendship and how men and women think and react toward the opposite sex. There’s a surprising amount of subtext in this film and I found the character arcs in the first two acts fascinating. What would you do if given a hall pass by your loved one? Would you cheat on them if given the opportunity with no guilt and no repercussions? The guys ask themselves these questions during the next seven days of freedom. The only problem is, they’ve been out of the game so long they think Applebees and Chili’s are the places to pick up chicks. Their friends Gary (Stephen Merchant), Hog-Head (Larry Joe Campbell) and Flats (J.B. Smoove) are no help and Fred has no clue what to do around women, using horrible pick-up lines in bars to try and get phone numbers. The men are clearly out of their element but as the days go by they start to realize they need to pick up the pace before the hall pass expires. Even when Rick begins to strike up a friendship with Starbucks worker Leigh (Nicky Whelan) he still doesn’t know how to talk or act around her. Meanwhile, the wives are partying it up at the beach house with an bunch of college baseball players looking to score with some cougars.
Can I talk for a minute about the women in this film? I don’t know what it is about the Farrelly Brothers but they somehow managed to find the hottest chicks working today and put them in this movie. Even Alyssa Milano is crazy fine in this. But the real gem is Nicky Whelan. Holy shit, what are they putting in the water in Australia? Is every Aussie chick smoking hot? Nicky is crazy good looking and yes fellas, does get naked later in the film. That right there is reason enough to pay for a ticket. You know Owen hit that. And if he didn’t, he’s a sad, sad man. Wow, I just re-read this paragraph and I now know why I’m single.
Back to the movie, there are some good and bad things about Hall Pass. Let’s start with the good, shall we? Because if we always heard the bad things first good judgment would take over and nobody would have herpes. There are some genuinely funny moments in Hall Pass. A scene where Rick and Fred are making fun of their rich friends is hilarious. What makes it funny is their friends and loved ones can hear everything they’re saying from the security system in their mansion’s safe room. Another scene involving the group of guys on the golf course is surprisingly good as are the scenes with Rick and Fred at the club or the coffee shop. Or Fred getting caught masturbating in his car. So Hall Pass will have you laughing quite a few times. Especially by Stephen Merchant who manages to make everything he says funny. Must be that there British speech, right gov’na? (Totally nailed the accent.)
And then we dip into the bad. The script by the Farrelly Brothers, Pete Jones and Kevin Barnett becomes a complete mess in the last thirty minutes. Scorned crushes, acts of betrayal, cop chases, characters that are introduced briefly then reappear later in bigger roles that aren’t necessary. It felt as if the Farrelly’s had a great idea but didn’t know how to execute it properly for three full acts. The roles for the guys were written fine, but the women took character turns that didn’t make a lot of sense and seemed to take away the focus from the men. I also didn’t like how the gang of friends up and disappear halfway through the movie, but they do appear later in a funny scene during the credits.
Another thing that bothered me is the Farrelly’s have gone from doing wonderfully goofy, funny humor to default gross jokes. A surprise laugh does come later in the film from a sick woman at the club that Fred is trying to sleep with, but it will gross some out. Also, there’s a scene at the gym where Owen falls asleep in the hot tub and is helped out by two naked men. Did I need to see a shot of a curved black penis and a really tiny white penis? I understand it’s supposed to be funny but it’s not and felt like something those jackass idiots Jason Friedberg and Adam Seltzer would come up with for one of their stupid “comedic satire” movies. (Pick one.) Some of the jokes don’t work because the editing was bad and scenes were either cut too short or weren’t cut quick enough. Lines of dialogue in a couple of scenes seemed out of place and I wish they had done a tighter job in the editing bay.
Owen Wilson, tired of trying to kill himself and focusing on killing his career instead, comes across as the loveable down to earth guy like he does in every one of his movies. (He really needs to do some push-ups, but who am I to judge.) I liked him in this and he played the part of a confused father and husband perfectly. Unfortunately, his onscreen wife Jenna Fischer is a pretty crappy actor so the more I had to watch her the more it made me cringe. She’s fine in The Office, but her deer in the headlights expression gets really old. And I have no idea what’s going on with Christina Applegate.
In the end, Hall Pass is passable. The jokes hit more than miss and despite the terribly messy third act, the Farrelly’s managed to deliver a decent comedy. It’s not close to the genius of their previous efforts but it’s not as awful as The Heartbreak Kid either. But you might wanna ask your wife or girlfriend if she’ll give you a two-hour hall pass to see it. She may not approve of you going to a movie just to see Nicky Whelan’s awesome hooters.