Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Jenna Fischer
Director: The Farrelly Brothers
Chris’ Take: The Farrelly Brothers hadn’t released a full length comedy film in three years, but I hadn’t missed them. While Dumb and Dumber will probably always be one of my favorite comedies, and There’s Something About Mary is always good for stopping on the FX channel for ten minutes before moving on, they seemed to be making a whole bunch of movies centered around a few brief laughs involving a comedic gimmick. This film was no different.
When a married man, Rick (Owen Wilson), falls into marital woes, his wife (Jenna Fischer) decides that it might be best to give him a “Hall Pass”, which means a week off from marriage. For that week, Rick is free to relive his bachelor days and attempt to bed women to his heart’s content. His pal, Fred (Jason Sudeikis), convinces his wife to let him join Rick on his marital misadventures, but the two soon find out that they aren’t the pick up artists they imagined themselves in their minds.
The premise for the film had a lot of potential. Two married guys get in over their heads hitting on younger women. Mix in some sight gags, and a dash of the always great Richard Jenkins, and you have the makings for an entertaining comedy. However, the Farrelly Brothers decided that it would be great to set up the premise for the first forty minutes of the film with some quick laughs, but then when the meat of the film arrives, the plot seems to come to a dead halt. There is a solid thirty minutes in the movie where nothing happens besides watching a bunch of guys hang out and repeat some of the laughs of better comedies. Plus, while it would be a challenge to see how the marriages could get to the point of requiring a “Hall Pass”, they certainly didn’t do nearly a good enough job of making that decision make sense, it just kind of happened.
One of the problems for me is that Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are decent on their own, or when paired with Richard Jenkins (who could mess that up?), but together they lacked comedic chemistry. A lot of the lines that were funny, seemed rushed or ill-timed, and I think a lot of that had to do with the instincts of one playing off of the other.
I think these guys really miss each other.
Another issue is that the film not only struggles with its pace, but with making the character development seem natural. The characters seemed to just be transported from scene to scene, but their reactions were inconsistent and didn’t make sense. One minute they are doing something completely and shamelessly debased, but then a split second later are a saint and devoted husband. There was no transition period or logical progression for these characters, which completely detached me from them because I couldn’t really figure out who they were.
Finally, when they actually get around to doing something with their time off, it kind of sputters by trying to wrap up a lot of mildly humorous plot threads in a short period of time. In reality, the Farrelly Brothers could’ve cut out the middle forty minutes and ended up with a more cohesive project that would be great for an HBO special or something.
At this point, The Farrelly Brothers reign in comedy has been over for about a decade now. The torch has been passed to a new generation of comedians, and while they were once great, there is very little spark in their humor now and they just end up doing a greatest hit tribute to other comedies.
The elevator music type of greatest hits, not actual covers.
- Characters: C-
- Directing: D+
- Plot: C+
- Humor: C
- Performances: C
- OVERALL: C-
Pac’s Take: I left our screening of Hall Pass a lot more satisfied than Chris did and was expecting there to be a lot of disparity between our two reviews. One of the benefits of Chris writing the first part of these reviews is that I get to read his thoughts before I write my own (and I don’t have to do a film description). However, after reading Chris’s take on Hall Pass there is a lot of points that I can agree with. The pacing was a bit off as it took a while for the film to get to the “hall pass” portion of the movie, and the chemistry between the two leads was not spectacular. However, the humor of this film was spread out enough to keep me interested for the entire film and I found myself laughing throughout. It was when Owen Wilson or Jason Sudeikis had the screen to themselves that I laughed most (or with Richard Jenkins), but that was a lot of the time.
Another point Chris mentioned that was the build up to the two leads actually receiving the hall pass. While the actions of these men (especially Owen Wilson’s character) didn’t necessarily warrant such an extreme “punishment”, they couldn’t do anything too extreme or that would have made the (very predictable) ending extremely unbelievable. My biggest gripe was with the supporting cast and their role in the plot of this film. While Richard Jenkins is always entertaining, all of Rick and Fred’s other friends were boring stock characters who provided little to no contribution to the film. Furthermore, continuing to jump back to Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate’s break from their husbands was completely boring and unnecessary. Their sole purpose in this film was to appeal to the female demographic, providing a wider range of film goers who may pay for admission.
I didn’t have high expectations going into this film, and that may be why I enjoyed it as much as I did. The film provided everything you’d expect from a Farrelly Brother’s R-rated comedy, mostly crude and raunchy humor. I would consider this the 4th best film these two have made together, behind Me, Myself, and Irene, Dumb and Dumber, and There’s Something about Mary. Your money is best spent waiting for the DVD/Blu Ray rental, but if you’re in the mood for a movie about getting a vacation from marriage, this is definitely your best bet.
Unless you need help falling asleep
Here are my grades:
- Characters: C
- Directing: B-
- Plot: B-
- Humor: B
- Performances: B-
- OVERALL: B-