HALL PASS (2011)

Hall Pass

Directed By: Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly
Written By: Pete Jones, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly & Kevin Barnett
Story By: Pete Jones
Cinematography By: Matthew F. Leonetti
Editor: Sam Seig 

Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudekis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, J.B. Smoove, Alexandra Daddario, Rob Moran, Nicky Whelan, Larry Joe Campbell, Stephen Merchant, Lauren Bowles, Richard Jenkins, Tyler Hoechlin, Derek Waters, Alyssa Milano, Joy Behar, Vanessa Angel, Andrew Wilson

A couple of married guys are always looking at other women. Their wives are fed up with their behavior, and grant them a ‘hall pass’: a week off their marriage allowing them to do anything. But the guys take their time and their week is almost up. What they don’t realize is that at the same time their wives make connections of their own.

Essentially a middle age man fantasy that becomes a nightmare more due to the reality if the situation. Of course here milked for all they are worth.

As always when it comes to the Farrelly brothers comedies there are plenty of hilarious moments (usually risqué and off color) they just can’t seem to sustain the whole film. They give it the old college try.

The title of of the film should be “What’s the worst that could happen” if it wasn’t already taken. As when the characters imagine exactly that is when the film is firing on all cylinders.

I have always admired how the Farrelly brothers have always tried to ground their films in a small town/middle class America mindset. The characters are usually quite normal and sweet. Just facing outrageous circumstances. Their films despite the zany and irreverent humor. Somehow seems to find heart and a sweetness at their core. This film is no exception.

Owen Wilson hasn’t seemed this energy In a whole with this film and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. He is finally living up to his potential. Usually Owen Wilson really doesn’t seem to put much effort into his Character roles and choices. I understand he tries to be offbeat, but at this pint it just feels like he is going through the motions with very little energy and emphasis and with him just appearing in bland studio comedies it cheapens his brand. So that when he stars in a film and finally is worth it. No one is really going to follow and watch it.

Jason Sudekis is ok. He is good as a schmoozer, but he always seems smarmy no matter what role he plays. I still don’t see the comic magic that others apparently do. He is good at basic character work so far.

The film is a perfect 80’s premise, but instead of using it for a 80’s type sex fest comedy. Where the Guy’s are turning away ladies or everytime they got one something goes wrong. It shows the difference between reality and fantasy.

As the guys are constantly awkward or mess up. Where as their wives are a lot more successful of reluctant while they are away. Reminding me of an 80’s sex comedy starring David Naughton titled SEPERATE VACATIONS.

I like the film. though I don’t want to. There are a lot of scenes which felt dead or lifeless that could have been cut, but there could have been another way to present them. Like when they keep running into the conservative family, that could have paid off if later we find out they are really into some sick stuff. While claiming to be the moral majority.

Also Interesting that Alyssa Milano isn’t in the film that much. Only for one scene and two lines in the whole film. It is such a rarity to see her on the big screen. I only wish her part was bigger. I would have loved her to be one of the female leads.

The film is a lot better than the Farrelly’s last film THE HEARTBREAK KID. It’s not as blocked and star struck. This film is really low key

Richard Jenkins steals the show in his few scenes.

The hairstyle and fashion used in the movie was circa 1970’s although the storyline and even the soundtracks are based in the 21st century The Farrelly brothers delve into crass and racy humor, but no matter how dirty it gets their films maintain a wide eyes innocence To a degree. Or at least the characters are good hearted then the film would have you believe.

It’s a formula they keep with each new film it seems except it always seems like they are trying I match or go further than their classic THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. That usually works fine it seems for most of their films, though with this fill it seems to fit the material a little more naturally. Even though again they seem to be trying harder than normal. The material of middle class , married, middle aged men trying to relive their 20’s and failing miserably while they think they are successful

There are many scenes that are so shocking you can’t Help but laugh as they go over the top, but what makes the film not work is quite frankly the casting. The leads do what is required. Owen Wilson comes of a little better then Jason Sudekis, but the leads come off as so scummy they aren’t really that likeable. Not like misunderstood goofballs, but dicks and as audience members can never really connect to them or feel for them as protagonists. Maybe you’re not supposed to in the case of Sudekis.

I just found myself wanting bad things to happen to them.

Then later in the film. While it focuses on their wives. When someone actually finally does cheat. It feels like the film punished them for succeeding in what most of the characters are attempting.

The scenes that really work are actually when the guys are hanging with their other middle aged married friends. Those scenes are hilarious.

I will also give the film credit for at least attempting an adult comedy, rather than aiming at teenagers and the cheap seats.

The film is very sexual and though a sex farce, When there is nudity it feels shocking of some reason and more juvenile then it needs to be. Not like the Blake Edwards films that involved sex they seemed classy and sensual. Like a section here it feels like a playboy with a college hook-up cheap and quick.

I guess with all the sexual talk and nature. The film seems to keep promising with no real follow through and when it happens. It’s shocking as you though we would never get there.

Stephen Merchant is funny. His scene at the end had me dying with laughter more than anything or anyone else in the film.

Maybe it’s too on the nose or too eclectic. This film could have prospered from nor unorthodox casting where half the fun would be seeing a star out of their element or more comedic pros who could handle the roles more subtlety.

Amanda Bynes was cast as Paige, but she had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by Alexandra Daddario.

Approach with caress it can be entertaining as a time waster but spoils very easily.

Which is a shame as I usually enjoy the Farrelly brothers films

While I enjoyed the film, it’s not a film that sticks with you. It’s something you watch once or might catch on cable and watch and remember certain parts. I would never own the film. It feels like a raunchy Saturday night live movie at times with it’s not quite A list cast. I only wish the film was a bit tighter

Grade: C

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