Entries Comments

Hall Pass Not Exactly a Hallmark of the Farrellys

Hall Pass
Directed by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly
Written by the Farrellys, Pete Jones, and Kevin Barnett from a story by Jones
Warner Bros., 2011

I gave a surprisingly positive review to The Heartbreak Kid back in 2007, a movie that was generally panned by critics, but I found enough laughs with to recommend.  I think the Farrellys generally have gotten a bad rap over the years by critics anyway: back in the nineties, movies that are comedy classics now, like Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and the criminally under-seen Kingpin got unfavorable reviews mainly due to the juvenile gross-out humor in which the Farrellys have branded their comedy.  Since There’s Something About Mary, the one that actually won some critics and went on to be a huge hit back in 1998, they’ve been in that movie’s shadow with their subsequent features Me, Myself, and Irene, Shallow Hal, and Stuck on You, all enjoyable to various degrees but never quite able to hit the highs Mary did.

Now, I didn’t enjoy The Heartbreak Kid to the level I did just because it was being panned by critics and I decided to be different.  I genuinely kinda liked it.  But with the Farrellys’ new comedy, Hall Pass, I will be joining the throng.  This movie just isn’t very funny.

Rick (Owen Wilson) and his wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) have hit a rut in their marriage.  They have three kids, he’s become a bit of a dick, she fakes sleeping to get out of having sex.  When he teams up with his dumbass best friend Fred (Jason Sudeikis), his flaws become magnified.  After a particularly embarrassing conversation between the two is overheard, Maggie decides to give her husband a “hall pass” from marriage, where he can do whatever he wants for a week without penalty.  Fred’s wife Grace (Christina Applegate) follows suit, and the two wives take a vacation while Rick and Fred are left to bang whomever will have them.

With a throng of horny friends cheering them on, the hall pass goes pretty much unused for the first few days, because Rick and Fred are pretty much too old and have been out of the game too long.  Rick’s target becomes the gorgeous barista Leigh (the stunning Nicky Whelan), while Fred doesn’t seem to have much of a chance at all.  In fact, Rick seems to have the chance to nail almost every hot chick in the movie: his babysitter Paige (Alexandra Daddario) also makes advances.  Both Leigh and Paige bring ancillary characters into the fray that take the movie in an almost-farcical direction.  It never quite gets there.

Meanwhile, the wives are meeting dudes on their own and having to make a choice as to whether they’ll also have a freebie away from their husbands.

This movie is actually painfully unfunny for the first twenty minutes, and ends up having a couple of good but rare laughs the rest of the way.  A cameo from Richard Jenkins as an old party animal who can tell everything about a girl from the slightest nuances is one of them.  The funniest moment comes after the credits start, when one of Rick and Fred’s friends, Gary (Stephen Merchant, co-creator of both the British and American The Office) is allowed to imagine what it would be like if he were given a hall pass.  It’s a really funny scene, so funny in fact you might wonder why the whole movie couldn’t have been stuff like that.

The premise was promising; it’s a misfire.  By the way, check out that writing credit for Pete Jones, the first winner of the short-lived Bravo series Project Greenlight, which documented the making of his movie Stolen Summer.  It’s good to see Greenlight people still working; even if this one didn’t turn out that great.

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.