Blu-Ray Review: Hall Pass

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I remember a time when it seemed as if the Farrelly Brothers could do no wrong. Upon release, Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Kingpin all instantly became a part of the pop-culture landscape, and the writing/directing duo was on a streak that seemed like it would never end. Of course, this was back in the nineties, and times change. Unfortunately, the Brothers didn’t. Eventually, their unique style of “gross out humor” became the norm, and all of a sudden, they didn’t seem so special anymore. Before we knew it, audiences were being subjected to drek such as Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, and The Hearbreak Kid. And now, the Farrelly’s have hit an all-time-low with the impossible to believe that it actually got a greenlight, Hall Pass.

If ever a “comedy” has been more poorly conceived, I can’t think of it. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play Rick and Fred, two friends physically devoted to their families, but mentally craving an escape. Finally, their wives agree to give them the hall pass of the title, which is one week off of marriage to do whatever they want, without consequence. When it comes to high-concept films like this, I can usually suspend my disbelief enough to let the filmmakers have their say. However, right off the bat, I found this a highly uncomfortable premise. Even if I could buy into the fact that these wives would do this, I just couldn’t bring myself to root for these guys and their attempts to successfully cheat on their wives.

That isn’t to say they don’t learn the obvious and predictable lessons along the way, but by the time the cheesy life lessons come around, I was completely over the film. Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate play the wives, and they also learn a lot from the week off. But by the end, I was sick of learning life lessons from a script that had such a fundamentally awful premise to begin with.

Now, I admit that there was some potential for humor in the premise. Watching these guys try and figure out how to live the frat-boy lifestyle after being emasculated by several years of marriage could have been funny. Unfortunately, the jokes are forced and obvious. Per the Farrelly’s tradition, there is the occasional gross-out sequence, but they exist simply for shock-value and do nothing to enhance the film. Perhaps somebody like Judd Apatow could have turned this into something bearable, but the Farrelly’s just don’t seem to have it in them anymore.

Despite my complaints about the premise, I still saw this in the theater based on the cast and a hope that this would mark a return to form for the Farrellys. I ended up hating the film then, and I still hate it now. I bring this up because the newly released Blu-Ray hypes the version included here as an “extra funny extended cut with footage not seen in theatres.” This is the version I watched, and I have to admit, I couldn’t find anything different. Whatever changes exist are not substantial in the least.

The film is a disaster, but there is one element that works. Richard Jenkins plays Coakley, a “guide” for Rick and Fred on their journey of infidelity. Jenkins is a great actor in everything he does, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him in such a silly role. In fact, the newly released Blu-Ray only has two extra features and one of these is a deleted scene featuring this character. It’s a very funny scene on it’s own, but I can see why it was cut as it doesn’t enhance the film at all. The only other extra is a two-minute “gag reel,” that is exactly like every other gag reel I’ve ever seen. In other words, not funny.

If for some reason, you are still curious about the film, the Blu-Ray is a two disc set containing both the Blu-Ray itself, along with a digital copy/DVD. While I never liked the premise, I was really hoping for more out of the cast. They all tried their best, but unfortunately, were hampered by a truly terrible script. I would like nothing more than to see the Farrelly Brothers recapture the glory of their earlier 90’s work, and truly hope that this doesn’t signal the end for what was once a very promising partnership.

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