Notable Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant, Derek Waters, Larry Joe Campell
Review: Well, it’s nice to see the Farrelly brothers returning to form somewhat. Hall Pass reverts back to their talents of old, drawing inspiration from their earlier films There’s Something About Mary and Me, Myself, & Irene. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still far away from that level, but at least Hall Pass acts as a step in the right direction. It’s brash, crude, silly, inappropriate, offensive, and thankfully funny. Not Hangover funny, but the straight edge style of Wilson combine with the stupidity of Sudeikis make a rather strong comedic team. There was the perfect amount of dumbfounded curiosity between the two unleashed horn dogs to make them lovably comical. That said, the film would have slacked hard without such a great supporting cast. Wilson and Sudeikis could only take Hall Pass so far, but the addition of such vital character actors like Waters, Merchant, and especially Jenkins helped keep it afloat. Of course Hall Pass falls victim to flat or over the top jokes, which ends up stopping it from being a next level comedy. The Farrelly brothers take an interesting concept that sounds too good to be true, and show us the trials and tribulations one may face when given ultimate freedom. The game hasn’t changed, but the players are definitely not the same.
Rick (Wilson) and Fred (Sudeikis) are the typical delusional married men who only reminisce about the single life. The duo can’t walk past a smokin’ hot babe without one of their patented “sneaky” check out moves. Sick of their constant antics, wives Maggie (Fischer) and Grace (Applegate) take advice from psychologist Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar). According to her theory, long-term married men are all talk. Their thoughts consist of their single days because they only remember the good moments from them. Budding from that theory, Lucy introduces the idea of a “hall pass,” or a week off from marriage. One whole week for Rick and Fred to live out every fantasy that has plagued their mind for the last x amount of years. After an especially embarrassing incident, Maggie informs Rick that she’s taking the kids to a cabin with her parents to let Rick live out his hall pass week alone. Grace follows Maggie’s lead, giving Fred a hall pass also. Or in the men’s terminology, they are hall pass buddies. Confused by their newfound freedom, Fred and Rick set out on a journey to live their week to the fullest, towing their friends along for the ride. But will they be paralyzed by the fear? Or rejuvenated by their new-found lifestyle.
I will admit, I went into Hall Pass with little to no expectations at all. The Farrelly brother’s track record has been struggling lately (The Heartbreak Kid/Fever Pitch/Stuck On You), and the premise really had a shot to go down in flames. If done right, the raunchy comedy genre has potential for huge gross out laughs and downright offensive jokes. If done wrong, the film becomes muddled with potty humor and tends to have the feel it was written by a 13-year-old that just learned about sex. Hall Pass manages to dance the line between laughs and duds, but dare I say the laughs actually outnumbered the jokes that face planted? By a rather large margin? I was joyously surprised as I laughed heartily throughout most of the movie, only slowing down on a few scenes that could have been cut out all together. There’s one particular scene in the gym hot tub that had me scratching my head instead of giggling like it wanted me to, feeling like a forced bit of raciness just for the sake of obscenity. Luckily, the Farrelly’s were able to minimize these moments and capitalize on the comedic talent they had on hand.
Getting to the dynamic relationship between Wilson and Sudeikis, don’t expect a Wedding Crasher‘s type Wilson who plays the sly fox to Vaughn’s nonchalantly clever character. Instead, Wilson and Sudeikis are like children finally let on their own, with no idea what to do except some vague premonitions of what they assume. Sudeikis really nails the excited child spirit, confidently proclaiming his mindlessly stupid plans, only to have Wilson blindly but cautiously agree because he doesn’t want to be left out. Niether of them have a clue what to do, but refuse to let the other know. Sudeikis carries Wilson along, having such a strong comedic presence. Out of the group of now budding SNL stars, aside from Bill Hader, Sudeikis is my favorite. His lines always hit the right tone of obscurity and silliness, but he completes them with such sanity, he can’t help but look insane. He can also balance that feeling, and bring his character back down to earth when need be. He was fantastic in Going the Distance, and Hall Pass is solidifying him as a strong all around comedic presence. I worry about giving him his own leading role because so much of his comedy comes off of others, but this is what made him the perfect fit to accompany Owen Wilson on his hilariously sexy adventure.
Those scared of the abundance of lackluster reviews, don’t shy away from Hall Pass. There’s plenty to laugh at and enough to keep you entertained to the point that it’s restoring my faith in the brothers Farrelly. Plus, what other movie is going to show you Sudeikis, Wilson, Merchant, and Campbell running around a golf course high on pot brownies? That scene right there was comedic gold. Aside from that, a ton of the comedy actually comes from short little quips at the end of sentences, punctuating each funny situation with an even hardier laugh. Try not to laugh through some of the funnier lines though if possible. And those dumping on Hall Pass I say, what else did you want from a film of this nature? It manages to stay smart long enough not to insult you, it manages to generate a great team of comedically funny people on-screen at one time, it provides the raunchy comedy you would expect, it threw in a great cameo; so really, what else could you ask for from Hall Pass?
Final Rating: 7 passes out of 10