The Farrelly Brothers are back with their patented brand of gross-out humor in the new comedy Hall Pass, featuring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as two pals that get a week off from marriage. That’s right, their longsuffering wives let them do whatever they want for seven days, no questions asked. What could possibly go wrong?
There’s a trend in TV marketing that just won’t die. We’ve all seen it. Some dopey, overweight guy can’t get his act together. Then his brilliant, gorgeous wife shows him how it’s done thanks to [enter product here].
Or there’s the beer commercial, which has that same dopey, overweight guy choosing [enter beer here] over his brilliant, gorgeous wife.
These commercial archetypes are two sides of the same coin. This is “marriage” in its most simplistic, sell-able form. Ladies, get ready to show your man how it’s done! Men, get ready to hide your beer!
Hall Pass has nothing more to tell us about marriage than these commercials do. It just stretches it to 105 minutes. The guys are clueless without their women and the women are perfectly fine without their men. Yup, seen this before. What product are you selling again?
Jenna Fischer plays Owen Wilson’s tolerant wife alongside Christina Applegate, today’s go-to comedy MILF. Fed up with their husband’s wandering eyes, they issue Hall Passes because they think it will teach the guys a lesson. And so the husbands head out with their posse of loser friends for what they think is going to be a free week of debauchery. Except, of course, the guys have no clue what they are doing.
There is no shortage of scatological gags here. This is a Farrelly Brothers movie, after all, and they seem to want you to laugh and cover your eyes at the same time. And you probably will, unless you want to see a guy crapping in a sand trap, or a close-up of another guy’s huge, veiny, twisted… never mind. I don’t want to spoil it for you.
I laughed at the appropriate points, and there are some very funny moments here. Jason Sudeikis’s masturbatory misadventures — or his later visit to a massage parlor — are highlight reel material. I also appreciated that The Farrelly’s didn’t let Owen and Jason get too far off the leash with improvising their dialogue.
But the film also drags at some points. It is not on the level of Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber or Kingpin. This is partly because Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are rather dull. I didn’t like or dislike them, they were mostly fodder for the “guys are stupid” jokes. Are we supposed to root for the guys to successfully get lucky or for the guys to learn their lesson? We don’t know, and the film doesn’t seem to know either.
I wish the movie focused more on Stephen Merchant, who has a bit part as the weird, British tag-along. At the very end, Stephen Merchant wonders what it would be like if his own wife gave him a Hall Pass. His 30-second dream sequence is funnier than the film preceding it.
[enter clever ending here]