Movie Review: "Hall Pass"

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106 minutes of my time and life I will not get back. I’m sure many of you have had that same thought at some time or another when going to the movies. If someone were to ask me about the Farrelly Brothers newest venture I’d have only one word to say to them, pass. As in, ‘don’t even suggest going’. Even with some comical moments this film is not for everyone. I had to calm down my girlfriend from walking out, to how irreverent some of the writing and shock comedy was.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the Farrelly Brothers are known for their pushing the envelope, like they did in “There’s Something About Mary” but this was not entertainment. More like two frat boys given money to direct a film to shock and see reactions. To pull in such seasoned actors as Owen Wilson (Marley & Me, Wedding Crashers), Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?, Married With Children), Jenna Fischer (Blades of Glory, The Office) and SNL’s Jason Sudeikis doesn’t even help.

Rick (Wilson) and Fred (Sudeikis) have been friends for life. Rick is married to his college sweetheart Maggie (Fischer), they have 3 kids, Fred is married to Grace (Applegate) and it is just them. Marriage has become a ‘chore’ and on the suggestion of a mutual friend the wives give their husbands a ‘hall pass’ from marriage for a week so they can “take care of their sexual urges”. With no wives and freedom to conquer without consequences, Rick and Fred feel like they are back in college and pick up all the woman they want, just like the old days. Can the husbands show they still got it? What about the wives, do they just sit by and wait or do they get to play?

From the trailer that first aired I was skeptical as to the nature and the comedy of this movie. Many times the funniest parts of a movie are shown in the trailer. I can’t say they were but they were definitely the tamest of jokes, both verbal and visual. I get it that sometimes shocking the audience with certain jokes or themes can be funny. Past Farrelly Brothers movies have been solely based on that form of comedy. This however went beyond that. The direction of having full frontal male nudity once is a shock and in the right context, funny. To keep showing it over and over is excessive. Don’t even get me started on the scene where Fred has a young woman in his hotel room bathroom. That was just downright shocking and disgusting. It is as if they couldn’t help the writing out, which is just as bad, that they thought throwing something like that scene in would have everyone saying, “Oh it’s the Farrelly Brothers, what did you expect?”

Kevin Barnett (The Heartbreak Kid) and Pete Jones (Outing Riley, Stolen Summer) co wrote the screenplay with the Farrelly Brothers. As expressed before it really didn’t help. The writing is dry, cliché, and predictable as is the plot. The characters of Rick and Fred are written like they are still in college and have not grown up with Maggie and Grace written as uptight wives that are ‘stuck’ with their men and their behavior. The snooty attitude they women give off get old and annoying real quick. Granted it was intensified by my girl sitting next to me cussing at the wives every time they spoke. We’ll get to that later. It does show that the characters were written at two completely different ends of a social behavior spectrum and played on screen poorly.

As for the acting, it is on par with the subject matter at hand. Wilson portrays Rick in his quirky comedic style. Sudeikis plays Fred annoying and the instigator of misadventures. Fischer and Applegate as the wives do a good job of playing the scrip, staunch, unemotional and unattached. I will say whoever the makeup artist was used too much orange or tanner on all the actors as they all came across with a ‘George Hamilton’ tan thru most of the film.

Needless to say I did not enjoy this film. In my honest opinion very few people will like this film. Maybe the occasional frat boys or those who stumble upon it just to see all the fuss the critics are saying about it. Again this is an opinion. The movie could have had much more potential if the writing was better and you dropped the shock aspects of it. What set me off the most was the hypocrisy of the wives. All that their men were asking for was something that should never have to be asked for in a marriage, sex. It become a chore to the wives and that in and of itself was annoying.

My two cents. The aspect of a ‘hall pass’ is an interesting solution of an underlying problem. In this case not fully warranted as the situation could have been solved by the wives remembering to be ‘in love’ with their partner for who they are and not out of duty. This was realized late in the movie but after much unneeded visuals. Both wives in this particular story have forgotten that sex is important as talking, or spending time together. It is a natural act of feeling that all of us crave. It doesn’t stop when you get married it should flourish. A marriage is about communication, verbal and physical. Now I know everyone communicates differently. That’s human nature. Finding out which way is the best way for you to communicate may take time but that is part of the journey. One way of communication that I have taken to heart is to never go to bed together angry. Make sure when all is said and done, when your eyes close they do so with love and respect. The next day is a new one and should start as such, new.