While I'm not sure it's something to hang my hat on, but the Farrelly Brothers are in a select group of directors that I can say I've seen every movie they've made (even Osmosis Jones). Think of me what you will, but everyone needs a good mindless comedy with a few gross-out gags sprinkled in for good measure from time to time; especially around this time of year when the winter blues are in full swing. Hall Pass is not an award-winning movie by any means, but it accomplishes everything it sets out to do, which makes it a good movie in my book.
Hall Pass centers on best friends Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (SNL's Jason Sudeikis) as they deal with the issues of being bored with their marriages. Desperate to gain their husband's affection (and attention) back, Rick and Fred's wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate, respectively) decide to try something drastic to save their marriages. This is where the concept of the "hall pass" comes into play as both women grant their husbands a week off from marriage to do whatever (and whomever) they want. To further emphasize the point, the wives leave the city for the week to give their husbands free reign. Not wanting to destroy the sanctity of their houses, Rick and Fred rent a hotel room for the week and get started.
The only problem is that they are completely clueless when it comes to picking up women (their first stop in their first night of debauchery is an Applebee's). Flanked by their friends who wish they had hall passes as well, Rick and Fred are only good at talking a big game and going to sleep early. To make matters worse, while the guys are striking out with painful as well as hilarious results (a scene involving hash brownies and a round of golf was a particular favorite), Rick and Fred's wives decide to give themselves a hall pass as well. It just so happens, they're a bit better at the single's game and immediately latch onto a baseball player and his coach.
As the week rolls on, the guys get braver and braver (and their exploits become a tad wackier each day) all with varying results. Fred seems to be happy with scoring in any possible way – even resorting to a massage parlor; while Rick has his eye on the woman who works at his favorite coffee shop. And, as the week rolls along, their opportunities get a bit more intense, especially when their "player" friend Coakley (Oscar-Nominated Actor Richard Jenkins) comes to town and instructs them in the art of picking up women. The only question left to ask is if the relationships between Rick and Fred and their wives are stronger after the week off?
For the most part, Hall Pass follows the same Farrelly Brothers pattern – situational comedy with wacky situations, and a few gross sight gags thrown in for good measure. The only difference is Hall Pass felt like it had a bit more heart than usual. Sure, I cared more about the laughs (which were plentiful if you're a fan of the R-rated gross out comedy genre) than anything else, but it was nice to see this movie not come out as flat as other recent Farrelly films. This is almost a resurgence of sorts for the Brothers and I think they owe a lot of that to the recent successes of the Apatow camp. It's also important to single out Jason Sudeikis and his performance as Fred. For years, he's been SNL's most consistently entertaining cast member, and it's good to see him finally shine on the big screen.
Overall, Hall Pass has a great cast (both main and supporting), has the right amount of gross-out gags, a few cameos, and above all, it gave me the well-needed chuckles to beat the winter blues. I personally think the Farrellys are at their best when they make R-rated movies, and Hall Pass is just such a movie. At the end of the day, Hall Pass is an unassuming comedy that serves its purpose and sends you home with a smile on your face. If you like other Farrelly Brother movies, you'll probably like this one. If not, you probably won't even be considering going to this one in the first place. It's not their best movie, but it definitely isn't their worst. In the end, Hall Pass, is a completely enjoyable, yet status quo addition to the Farrelly library.
Rating: TWO AND A HALF BONES
Release Date: February 25th, 2011
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Nicky Whelan, and Richard Jenkins
Directors: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Writers: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett, and Pete Jones