Theatrical Review: HALL PASS
Writers: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Pete Jones, Kevin Barnett
Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Nicky Whelan, Richard Jenkins
Studio: New Line Cinema
Oh, how the mighty Farrellys have fallen. The creators of such classics like SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and DUMB & DUMBER haven't made a genuinely good movie in years. Fans of the brothers Farrelly may be happy to see that, in HALL PASS, there is the usual cast of characters and bit players. There are the typical dick and fart jokes and sexual humor that is rampant in their movies, but that isn't going to be enough for fans of some of their earlier projects.
Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are regular guys married to the lovely Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), respectively. They lead happy lives and, on the surface, seem content with the world and their place in it, but Rick and Fred are obsessed with sex. They're obsessed with sex and their wives know it. They talk about it constantly, often loud enough for people to hear, they ogle their local Australian barista Leigh (Nicky Whelan), and they even talk disparagingly about their friends' wives. Well, maybe not all of them, just the ones with the new breasts and wide-mouthed vaginas.
After being put into really embarrassing situations by their husbands, Maggie and Grace decide to try a radical technique they learned from their award-winning psychologist friend. They decide to give their husbands a week off from marriage - a "hall pass." They are allowed to do whatever they want, to whomever they want, without fear of consequence or repercussions. The boys decide to make the best of their week off from marriage by bringing their friends along as they search for sexually willing coeds. Along the way, they realize that they're not as young as they used to be and maybe they can't get with every woman they see.
The direction given by the Farrellys must have been very good, because the performances aren't the problem. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play off of each other really well, and Jenna Fischer is as charming as she ever has been. The weakest link is Christina Applegate, who appears bored of being in yet another romantic comedy, and there isn't very much in the way of funny written for her character to play.
The screenplay itself maybe the weakest aspect of the film overall. The Farrellys' best movies work because of an element of the super-unnatural at play, whether it be an irrationally angry person with multiple personality disorder, a group of guys blindly worshipping an average-looking girl, or two guys who are way too dumb to have even survived into adulthood. HALL PASS has the same problem some of their most recent films have had, where the Farrellys try to tackle issues that may actually be relevant to a few people watching. Unless you're married and know what it's like to have been married for a few years after the sizzle is gone, this movie may not appeal to you at all. Likewise, if you're young, you'll probably think the idea of two guys in their forties going after women is gross and definitely not funny.
It's not to say that HALL PASS is terrible, but it gets a low-scoring review because it comes from the same guys who wrote and directed genuinely funny and out-there films, such as ME, MYSELF AND IRENE, and the KINGPIN. There's an aura of familiarity that does make this feel like a Farrelly brothers film, and there are a few gags that do bring about genuine laughs and the over the top insanity of the third act almost saves the film as a whole. You're overall enjoyment or disdain will come from how much the story means to you. Unmarried, early-twenties folks are not going to be ones speaking the praises of HALL PASS, but perhaps a new generation will find a reason to seek out some truly great comedies in the earlier works of the Farrelly's.