Hall Pass (2011)

Hall Pass is like the guys it depicts – ridiculous, overconfident, and dull, and unless you have a hankering to watch every Owen Wilson movie ever, there’s no need to see this one. Wilson plays Rick, a bored husband and father, who along with his best friend, Fred (Jason Sudeikis), gets a one-week hall pass from his wife. The hall pass has nothing to do with school and bathroom breaks and instead is a get-out-of-jail card. For one week, the guys are released from their marriage vows and are free to do whatever they please while their partners are out of town.

I’m not the type of person who would know or care if this is a real thing, nor are Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), that is until they decide they’ve had it with their husbands’ wandering eyes. They consult their psychologist friend (Joy Behar) who suggests the hall pass plan, reasoning that it’s a chance for the guys to get it out of their system. If Rick and Fred get to follow through on their fantasies, or at least try to, then they’ll stop resenting their wives for holding them back from all the beautiful, available women out in the world and they’ll actually commit to their marriage. Maggie and Grace think this sounds reasonable, and, throwing away all common sense, they agree to give it a try since honestly, they’re a little bored with married life too.

It’s a man’s dream come true, so Rick and Fred think. Their unbridled optimism and inflated sense of self soon fades when on the first day it becomes apparent that they’re not quite up to the task of meeting women and having loads of sex. Whether they’re stuffing themselves at Applebee’s or stoned off their rockers on the golf course, no one seems interested. But as the week wears on and just when it looks like their hall passes have been all for naught, things start to look up. Rick pursues his regular barista (Nicky Whelan) and Fred, with the help of perpetual bachelor Coakley (a blinged-out Richard Jenkins in either a genius casting choice or an epically horrible one), has his own pleasant, unexpected run-in.

It doesn’t need to be said that this movie is written, directed, and produced by a bunch of dudes. The Farrelly brothers (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Shallow Hal) are at the heart of this. They try to couch their characters’ juvenile and misogynistic behavior in a story about guys who come to appreciate what they have. Sure, Rick may pick Jenna Fischer over Alexandra Daddario, but he also tells an extended joke about floppy boobs and large mouthed vaginas. Meanwhile, Fred gets his comeuppance and is beat up at a bar but only after he verbally abuses women. This kind of humor doesn’t work both ways, and I’m not laughing.

Of course that could also be because the script simply isn’t that funny. It’s an amusing idea about a couple of men, and women, who aren’t all they imagine themselves to be. Even Maggie and Grace get a taste of the hall pass life when they get friendly with a local baseball team. Most of the jokes are tame and predictable though. It must be comedic law that a fortysomething who hasn’t had a pot brownie in awhile is bound to take a dump in public or that he who writes and studies bad pick-up lines will get slapped down. We don’t need to see that, or this movie, again.

Released: 2011
Prod: Charles B. Wessler, Bradley Thomas, Benjamin Waisbren, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, J.B. Rogers, Mark Charpentier
Dir: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Writer: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Pete Jones, Kevin Barnett
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Joy Behar, Nicky Whelan, Bruce Thomas, Alexandra Daddario, Alyssa Milano, Derek Waters, Kristin Carey, Tyler Hoechlin, Stephen Merchant, J.B. Smoove, Larry Joe Campbell, Richard Jenkins
Time: 109 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2018