Hall Pass * * *

Genre: Comedy

Directors: Peter and Bobby Farrelly

Writers: Pete Jones, Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett and Bobby Farrelly

Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Nicky Whelan, Richard Jenkins

Running Length: 104 minutes

Synopsis: Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are best friends who have a lot in common, including the fact that they have each been married for many years. But when the two men begin to show signs of restlessness at home, their wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) take a bold approach to revitalizing their marriages: granting them a “hall pass”, one week of freedom to do whatever they want with no questions asked. At first, it sounds like a dream come true for Rick and Fred. But it isn’t long before they discover that their expectations of the single life – and themselves – are completely, and hilariously, out of sync with reality.

Review: A lot has changed since the Farrelly Brothers’ breakout hit, There’s Something About Mary, was released thirteen years ago. What were groundbreaking back then – crude sexual jokes, gross out sight gags and the like – have now become the norm in most R-rated comedies. Hall Pass may not exactly have pushed the boundaries of such comedies, but like many Farrelly Brothers’ movies, it does have something that many of such comedies lack – a heart.

Although Hall Pass boasts a fair number of shocking moments (none more disgustingly memorable than the scene where Fred has to deal with a drunk woman) and is actually laugh-out-loud funny at times, what really sets it apart is that the film actually manages to offer some pretty good insights into relationships and monogamy. It actually gets pretty sentimental at times, toeing the line of schmaltziness, but as a whole both the comedic and “serious” moments work well together.

Hall Pass is far from being perfect – the decision to feature both the husbands’ and the wives’ storylines means that something has to give, and in this instance it’s the wives’ stories, which feel woefully underdeveloped. There is enough fodder for a whole other movie, so the inclusion of these subplots merely detracts from the main story. Also, despite Rick and Fred having a number of friends, none of them seem to have any real personality other than Richard Jenkin’s late appearance, who then manages to steal the limelight from the two leads in every scene they share. The film is also fairly predictable throughout, and most of the plot developments are easily figured out, including the shock moments.

Hall Pass won’t be as enduring as There’s Something About Mary, and despite the scatological humour and male nudity, comes across as a relatively tame film. Whilst it’s a tough sell to anyone who doesn’t like lowbrow, slapstick humour, most audiences will likely find themselves pretty entertained.  

P.S. One more thing – don’t forget to stay through the entire end credits to catch a seriously funny outtake that involves a minor cast member. It truly is comedy gold.

Rating: * * * (out of four stars)

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