Hall Pass

Dir: Bobby and Peter Farrelly

Rating: 2.9/5.0

Warner Bros.

98 Minutes

After wracking my brain, I realized the last movie I saw by Bobby and Peter Farrelly was Shallow Hal, way back in 2001. I don’t think I made it through the entire film, having grown tired of the way the Farrelly Brothers made fun of people with physical ailments. So I skipped out on Stuck on You, Fever Pitch and The Heartbreak Kid. Hall Pass, the newest movie by the brothers who haven’t met a scatological joke they don’t like confirms one thing: I may have grown up but the Farrelly Bros haven’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I found much to laugh about in the comedy and its simple premise – Owen Wilson’s wife (Jenna Fischer) offers him a week off from the marriage to fuck whoever he pleases. Wilson plays Rick, a Providence, Rhode Island real estate agent whose sex life is disrupted by his three young children and an exhausted wife. While his best friend Fred (Jason Sudeikis) is an unrepentant horndog who is married to a fed up Christina Applegate but must relieve his frustration out in his car, Rick still loves his wife Maggie. But a string of miscommunications lead Maggie to follow a therapist friend’s advice to not only grant Rick his “hall pass,” but also give herself leave of the marriage for a week.

As usual, the Brothers Farrelly temper a sweet tale (isn’t There’s Something About Mary basically a romantic comedy?) with the sour smell of farts, dirty vaginas and other toilet humor. As Fred tries his best to capitalize on the “hall pass” granted him, Rick is dubious, too in love with his wife to take advantage of the freedom. And that is the moral quandary the film rests upon: will Rick and Maggie remain faithful to one another? What film has actually told us that cheating is okay? Not Hall Pass.

In the arena of sexual politics, Hall Pass continues to foist the stereotype that in a marriage men are the dumb animals led around by their dicks while the women are the doting mothers, rolling their eyes at every stupid thing their husbands say and do. Therein lies the problem with the movie. Rick and Fred are so dumb that they think Applebee’s is the place to go to meet chicks. Sure, married men can be out of touch with “being cool,” but seriously, go to Applebee’s to meet women? I believed Fischer and Applegate as real characters but Rick and Fred are beyond idiotic in their comedic blunders. I did, however, like the scenes involving their motley group of friends played by Stephen Merchant (“The Office” and “Extras”), J.B. Smoove (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Larry Joe Campbell, but they vanish in the second half of the film.

Hall Pass only really falters in its final act when Rick and Fred egg a sour DJ/coffee shop worker into a rage involving a crowbar and handgun. Completely against the tone set early in the film, this murderous violence is out of step with the comedic punches and other bloodshed that occur before. This time, people could actually get seriously injured. It is an unfortunate inclusion in an otherwise innocuous film, even if the formula expired more than 10 years ago.

by David Harris

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