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Hall Pass (Review)

Hall Pass (Review)

A comedy of moaners
Mar 5, 2011
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Hall Pass
Genre: Comedy, Romance Release Date: 03/03/2011 Runtime: 105 minutes Country: USA


Director:  Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly Writer(s): 
Pete Jones

Peter Farrelly

Kevin Barnett

Bobby Farrelly

Pete Jones

Cast: Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Nicky Whelan, Owen Wilson, Richard Jenkins
Hall Pass (Review), reviewed by Dan Gear on 2011-03-05T16:34:16+00:00 rating 3.5 out of5

What do you do when your man checks out other women whenever you’re out with him? How do you respond to a guy who has romantic sessions – by himself – in the car after you turn out the light? Put him on a leash? Cut your losses and move on? No – you give him a hall pass. And if you’re not sure he knows what to do with it, make sure his hopelessly horny best friend gets one too.

For those of you who don’t know what a hall pass is, it’s kind of like a “get out of jail free” card – only in this case it’s marriage. The recipient is granted one week off from matrimony, and is free to make his own choices, restricted only by his conscience (or what little he has of one). When disheartened Maggie (Jenna Fischer from the American version of The Office) gives easily distracted husband Rick (Owen Wilson, Little Fockers) a hall pass, she thinks it’s a chance to save their marriage – once he gets it all out of his system he’ll finally be ready to settle down. Saturday Night Live’s charismatic Jason Sudeikis plays his oversexed best friend Fred, who practically has a hall pass thrown at him by his wife – although most male members (groan) of the audience will be scratching their heads as to why anyone would want a hall pass from Christina Applegate, still a total babe some 25 years after she graced our TV screens in Married With Children.

The boys don’t really know what to do with themselves at first, however. Their first couple of nights aren’t spent trying to pick up women but hanging out with their three moronic friends – a nerdy Brit, the token black guy, and a dim-witted slob whose prime topic of conversation, like his animated cousin Chris Griffin, is poo. But their quest escalates when they hook up with player extraordinaire Coakley – an eye-popping performance by the always dependable Richard Jenkins (Let Me In, Step Brothers) as a kind of sleazy wizard (imagine Obi-Wan Kenobi in a T-shirt wielding a vengeful boner instead of a lightsaber).

hall pass151 e1299304850255 600x284 Hall Pass (Review)

As you might’ve guessed, tasteless gags and toilet humour are the order of the day here. And there were some scenes early in the film where I couldn’t catch every second joke because the audience was laughing so hard – the last time I saw a movie that got that kind of reaction was probably Clerks, more than fifteen years ago. But the unfortunate problem with Hall Pass is that while it starts out really well, it peaks early, and the laughs are weighted more in the first half of the film. The lags in the second half are mostly due to the fact that we spend increasingly more time with the wives, and while they too inevitably get up to no good at some beach resort nearby, the abrupt shifts in tone are jarring. The moral thread of the story – the idea that a hall pass gives the men freedom without consequences, but the women are not obliged to stay wholesome and virginal either – becomes rather heavy-handed and starts to work against the flow of the gags, pouring on the irony instead.

The awkward combination of gross-out gags and an almost sugary tone is no surprise, coming from writing/directing team Bobby and Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary), and the crude humour and raunchy dialogue will delight fans of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen (admirers of The 40-Year-Old Virgin will not be disappointed). The way the film falls over itself with its incessant need to have a heart is also similar – right from the beginning you know things are going to get pretty sappy and lessons will be learned. So just be warned – it’s that kind of film. On the other hand, there are moments when things go way overboard that are just about priceless, and you’ll be able to expand your vocabulary with plenty of words and phrases that you might want to refrain from using around your mother. But then, she’s probably guilty of cockblocking and is definitely no good for your spankbank, so who needs her anyway?

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