Hall Pass (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Hall Pass (2011)

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Hall Pass is a frustrating type of movie because you can see there was a well made and sweet movie struggling desperately to get out but ultimately doesn’t succeed.  With a rewrite and toning down the unneeded gross out humor the movie could have been one of the Farrelly Brothers better films, but ultimately ends up being a decent but forgettable film.

Rick (Owen Wilson) is a typical suburban dad, happily married to Maggie (Jenna Fisher) and loving father of 3 small children.  While he is happy in life, between the job and raising kids, Rick does not have much time for any bedroom activities with his wife.  Rick’s best friend Fred (Jason Sudekis) is in the same boat with a lot of pent up sexual frustration and the two guys do what typical guys do when together, talk a big game about women with having no inkling to actually back up their boasts.

Maggie and Fred’s wife Grace (Christina Applegate) start noticing their husbands’ roving eyes and when they complain to their friend about their husbands’ idiotic behavior, she lets them know the concept of the “hall pass.”  The men would have the opportunity to see what single life is truly like, no strings attached for a week.  After the 6 days are up, their wives would return and the men would supposedly have the urge out of their system and would become “neutered” is the only word I can really think of.

Although neither wife give it a second thought, after a few embarrassing scenes both husbands are granted a hall pass, with Fred being more excited than Rick.  When the wives go off to a beach house the men stay back home to live it up.  Soon enough the women themselves have found suitors for themselves while the men are having a little more issues with the womanizing ways.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly are very talented writers and directors.  Their movies in the 90s from Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin to There’s Something About Mary were some of the funniest films of the decade (especially the underappreciated and hilarious Kingpin). After this run, they seemed to fall on hard times with Shallow Hal, Me Myself and Irene and Stuck On You, which all had their moments but were really not anything special.  After their last unwatchable film The Heartbreak Kid (shudder) I was hoping for something special with Hall Pass, but with focusing on the toilet humor that was unneeded in the film and making the women shrewish when there was no need for it the movie misses the mark.

The movie starts out so well because any couple with kids could easily associate trying to have a romantic night and being foiled by kids waking up, not going to sleep and tons of other circumstances beyond your control.  If the film followed this string and made the problem for the main married couple the lack of time they have together it would have made sense.  Yet at the end of this scene when you think Maggie falls asleep before their romantic night even starts. But in reality is faking being asleep; the movie hit its first speed bump.

Owen Wilson’s Rick is probably one of the sweetest characters he has played.  It is evident that he adores his wife and family and has no desire to be with another woman.  All he does is talk dirty with the boys, check out hot women and make fun of a giant tool of a man that is somehow in his group of friends.  Yet these traits, which I can guarantee 99.9% of men all do is supposed to make him a jerk that needs to be put in his place?  I didn’t follow this logic.   It is revealed later that the reason that Maggie was faking sleeping was because she was worried if they would be together he wouldn’t have been thinking of her.  Yet instead of voicing this concern she plays some mind games with him and ultimately leaves him for a week.  This movie portrays the guys as little sheep dogs that need to be put on leashes and hit with a newspaper when bad and the women who are saints because the put up with them.   While Fred is a dorky guy, Rick is a guy that most women would love to end up with. By making him look small the movie and the women characters lose my sympathy.

I am not going to lie, Nicky Whelan is not too hard to look at.

The other problem with the film was that it had a sweet sentimental streak and honest laughs in the film the get covered by gross out humor.  I laughed at many scenes in the film that were grounded in some sort of reality.  These scenes were the best in the film because they were relatable.  I know that if I had a week off to myself, I would not go after women but more than likely would just hang out with my friends and relax.  And that is what Rick and Fred seem to do more than anything.  The movie would really start working on me and then a scene would come up with some sort of feces related punch line and deflate the goodwill the movie was building up. While the brothers are known for this type of humor it felt unneeded and out of place in this film.  Peter and Bobby are both in their 50’s now and should try to move on from this type of humor, or at least remember that their most successful movie, There’s Something About Mary managed to make the obscene and gross out movies funny and part of the plot.

Hall Pass was not a horrible movie.  I laughed a few times and found it to be mostly enjoyable.  Owen Wilson was very charming in the film and he has a sweet monologue at the end that he really sells well.  But I can’t wholly recommend the film because it had the chance to be something better and failed to become that.  I believe that the brothers can make another laugh out loud movie and that they found a good leading man for their type of film in Wilson, but Hall Pass is not that film.  In the end Hall Pass is a good rental or catching on cable type flick but nothing that needs to be seen now.

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Hall Pass (2011)

Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Screenplay by Pete Jones, Kevin Barnett, Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate

Posted by Ryan

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