February 27, 2011
Review - " Hall Pass " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Jason Sudeikis, Christina
Applegate, Nicky Whelan, and Richard Jenkins
Hall Pass debuted this weekend and it is the latest flick from the
Farrelly brother - the duo who brought us There's Something About
Mary and Dumb and Dumber. Their latest flick is just that - dumb and
Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are seemingly happy,
married suburban BFFs. When their wives (Jenna Fischer and
Christina Applegate) get tired of their foolish man-boy antics, they
grant their men a one-week, no-strings-attached, hall pass from
marriage. Because this is somehow supposed to strengthen their
relationship. Sound stupid? It is.
The wives head out of town to Cape Cod and the men believe they
are going to get crazy for the week, hitting on and sleeping with as
many women they can during their week off. They encounter many
adventures, but each one seems to go wrong in one way or another.
You'd think with these two comedians, the adventures-gone-wrong
plot, would be hilarious. Unfortunately, the crude-jokes and foul
language is too much and gets in the way of any potential humor. We
wind up with a depressingly unfunny and pathetically creepy film.
Jason Sudeikis, in general, makes Fred a particularly awful person
who acts like an obnoxious fool, objectifying women at every turn and
trying to corrupt the more moral Rick. He has no saving grace
whatsoever in this film and you kind of hope his wife Grace, whom he
has no respect for and it almost seems like he can't stand her, will go off and cheat herself. Fred is completely creepy and it
seems the Farrelly brothers are trying to somehow make that endearing and likable, but it's a huge turnoff.
Rick didn't want a hall pass, he NEVER wanted a hall pass, his wife, Maggie, forced it on him. He loves his wife. She's the
only one he wants to be with. Fred on the other hand is simply a pig. He sets it up so his wife will go along with the hall pass
The film is generally sexist the entire way through.
The two men seem to think women are tools to
pleasure them and give them what they want.
They are constantly seeking sex, whether in their
marriage or outside of it. There is one particularly
sexist scene where Fred is explaining why the guys
shouldn't feel bad about their hall pass. He asserts
women live their dreams, but guys don't - women's
dreams are playing house and having children and
men give them that. Whereas a man's dream is
There's isn't much that's actually good with this
movie, the only saving grace is Wilson who plays
his usual lovable self. Even when he is forced to
deliver crude lines and awful jokes, he seems to do
it with a little bit of good-natured charm. Of course
it turns out the women decide to take a marital
break, too. And end up enjoying their freedom a
lot more than their husbands, who mostly act like witless 13-year-olds.
I actually found myself relieved when the scenes with the wives in Cape Cod came on. Fisher and Applegate were much
more entertaining and likable in the film. The two have their own out-of-marriage experience, but it doesn't have the same
nasty crudeness as the men. Fisher's Maggie really bothered me. She feigns sleep so she doesn't have to have sex with her
husband and then complains that she feels undesired. What's wrong with this picture? That's woman logic for you.
Early on in the film there were moments of absolute gut busting hilarity. I was laughing, the audience was laughing.
Unfortunately once the over-the-hill wanna-be playboys got actually going with their week off from marriage the fun just dried
up. There remained very few laughs to be found and the movie simply degenerated into crude and obnoxious toilet humor
(or more like lack of humor).
To an extent, maybe even to a large extent, the Farrellys succeed. "Hall Pass" is watchable and engaging. There are three
or four comic set pieces, of a kind that these guys do really well, that are laugh-out-loud funny. This will be enough for most
people; in a way, it should be enough. Yet there's something just off about the movie, something discordant or out of balance.
Within these constraints and within the limits of
its ambition, "Hall Pass" is perfectly acceptable.
Sudeikis plays a routine zany, but Wilson gets to
let out his latent sweetness; Fischer is
thoroughly appealing, and Applegate is a
first-rate comedian too often found in third-rate
movies, so second-rate is an improvement. Let's
hope this isn't the Farrellys' statement about the
institution of marriage, because if marriage were
really this pathetic, why should anyone bother?
2 stars for they early hilarity but the rest of Hall
Pass just gets a pass.