Hall Pass

Funny thing about the Farrelly brothers is how, for some reason, we keep underestimating them. Well, I do anyway. Even though I loved their early movies (“Dumb and Dumber”, “Kingpin”, “There’s Something About Mary”, etc.), for the better part of the last decade, I’ve been unsure about whether each film they came up with would be any good. As a matter of fact, a couple of their recent outings have been subpar (“Stuck on You”, “Fever Pitch”), but then they came back with the remake of “The Heartbreak Kid” and, when I caught up with it on DVD after skipping it theaters, I had a pretty great time.

Still, I wasn’t so sure about this here “Hall Pass”. The premise, which has two married men getting “hall passes” from their wives, i.e. a week off from marriage during which they can cheat on them scot-free, seemed promising, but I had a feeling that the flick would cop out and end up being all sentimental and moralizing… I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that I was pretty much right. Then again, in spite of this, the lead-up to the somewhat anticlimactic (no pun intended) resolution is actually a whole lot of fun.

As played by Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis, the husbands on the prowl for guilt-free extramarital sex don’t come off like macho assholes, but like horny geeks who talk a lot of shit but don’t actually have any game with the ladies, kind of like fortysomething versions of the boys in “Superbad”. So even though they spend the first act gawking at the tits and asses of all the hotties they come across and bullshitting about all the naughty things they’d do to them in hilariously colorful ways, once they get the go-ahead from their spouses (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate in rather thankless parts), they choke, big time.

Aptly compared in the film to housecats who keep scratching at the door who freeze when actually given the chance to go outside, Wilson and Sudeikis’ characters quickly find out that they’re out of their element in the bachelor world. They want to live it up like when they were young, dumb and full of cum, but they get tired much faster than they used too, they can barely handle getting their drink on anymore, and they’re totally clueless about how to pick up girls.

This leads to many ridiculous situations, including some really outrageous ones that involve everything from the standard dick and fart jokes to sudden bursts of violence and run-ins with the law. But before long, the guys’ days of freedom are running out, each of them flashing on screen (“Day 1”, “Day 2”, etc.) with an orchestral thump on the soundtrack, in one of the film’s most effective recurring punchline… But as I alluded to, even if they get a chance to get laid, they might just realize they love their wives too much to sleep with other women – even if they look as stunning as Australian actress/model Nicky Whelan!

Some of the gags in “Hall Pass” are hit and miss, but it made me laugh more often than not. Beside the great comic pair formed by Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis, I enjoyed their group of buddies played by Stephen Merchant, J.B. Smoove, Larry Joe Campbell and, in a wonderful bit of casting against type, Richard Jenkins. And you gotta have a soft spot for any flick that uses Styx‘s The Best of Times in such a gloriously inappropriate way!