Hall Pass ** ½
Directed by: Peter & Bobby Farrelly.
Written by: Peter & Bobby Farrelly & Pete Jones & Kevin Barnett.
Starring: Owen Wilson (Rick), Jason Sudeikis (Fred), Jenna Fischer (Maggie), Christina Applegate (Grace), Nicky Whelan (Leigh), Richard Jenkins (Coakley), Stephen Merchant (Gary), Larry Joe Campbell (Hog-Head), Bruce Thomas (Rick Coleman), Tyler Hoechlin (Gerry), Derek Waters (Brent), Alexandra Daddario (Paige). Joy Behar (Dr. Lucy).
The Farrrelly brothers have made a career of appealing to the lowest level of taste possible. Their films from Dumb and Dumber to Kingpin to There’s Something About Mary to Shallow Hal to The Heartbreak Kid and everything in between have had more jokes about bodily fluids than pretty much any other directors films. And yet, although they have made some absolutely horrid movies (none worse than The Heartbreak Kid), there films as stupid as they are, are also rather clever and quite often hilarious. Their best films have a sustained comic momentum that make them among the best comedies in recent years. Their latest Hall Pass has moments as gross and hilarious as anything in their filmography - yet it does not have that sustained comic momentum that would make it truly great.
The premise of the film is simple. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play Rick and Fred, two fairly happily married guys, who still spend most of their time talking about sex. Their wives, Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate, are getting tired of all this sex talk, and decide to take the advice of their friend Dr. Lucky (Joy Behar) and give them a Hall Pass. Essentially, this means a week off from marriage, where the guys can do whatever they want to with no consequences to their marriages. The girls go up to Cape for the week, and the guys decide to make it a week of debauchery and sex. But as we expect, they are more talk than action - and they learn a valuable lesson.
There is a lot of sex talk in the movie - and Wilson and Sudeikis are able to deliver their one liners with ease and great comic timing. Wilson is a little more down to earth and restrained - not just coasting on his easy charm as he has done in the recent past (How Do You Know and Little Fockers being prime examples). Sudeikis doesn’t really have much of a character to play - its mainly a series of one liners, but he does it well. The supporting cast is mostly quite good - especially Fischer, Applegate, and Ricky Gervais’ good friend Stephen Merchant as one of the guys friends.
There are many great moments in the film that are quite simply hilarious. An early scene where Wilson and Sudeikis where they do not know they are being over heard that is brilliant. There is a moment that will be talked about by anyone who sees the movie with one of the girls Sudiekis takes home, and starts to feel ill that is disgusting and hilarious at the same time.
But overall, Hall Pass has too many moments that feel the same - too many scenes that play out the same way, that are too similar to each other, and are quite lazy. They get their big moments right, but the rest of the film doesn’t quite come together. The Farrelly brothers have not embarrassed themselves like they did with The Heartbreak Kid, which took a minor masterpiece and turned it into one of the worst films in recent memory, but they have not regained their prior form either. Hall Pass is a fun distraction for a couple of hours - yet it doesn’t reach the levels that the Farrellys are capable of, so ultimately, it ends up as a disappointment.