Pass/Fail: Hall Pass does the latter.
Shameless gross–out tactics and potty humor mark the Farrelly brothers’ work at its peak in the late ’90s, with films like There’s Something About Mary. For those nostalgic for this style of comedy, which has been replaced by dialogue driven, Apatow–ian fare, Hall Pass will no doubt deliver the laughs. The rest of us will feel collective shame at having ever thought this sort of thing was funny.
Maggie (Fischer) and Rick (Wilson) are in a marital slump. He can’t keep his eyes off other women, and she can’t be persuaded to have sex. Friends and parallel couple Fred (Sudeikis) and Grace (Applegate) are faring even worse.
After overhearing their husbands’ lewd comments at a house party, Maggie and Grace decide to follow the advice of a friend and give their husbands a “hall pass,” or a week off of marriage to release sexual frustration. Rick and Fred set out on a quest to lay as many women as possible in their free period, while Maggie and Grace set off for Cape Cod where they encounter some unexpected action themselves.
The film falls prey to so many outdated movie cliches that it borders on kitsch. Any potential for a clever, tongue–in–cheek comedy is dashed once the Farrellys’ penchant for profanity is firmly established via dialogue. No doubt an attempt to adapt the humor to fit with recent trends, this conversation, and the film’s attempts to up the ante on gross–out humor, only serve to show how unaware the film is of its disconnect.
The only fad the movie successfully tunes into is, unfortunately, the infantilization of grown men and the shrewish portrayal of women. But there is nothing endearing in these characterizations, and in the end the audience is left with a story that centers around an immature idiot and his bland, boring wife.
Trying to adapt an old formula to new times ages the Farrelly brothers’ aesthetic, making it unappealing for a youthful audience and at the same time probably too crude for an older one. What is left is a film that will appeal to few.
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate
Rated PG–13, 98 min.