Comedy has changed since the Farrelly brothers first started making their distinguished films. They were the pioneers of the gross R-rated comedies we see today but since There’s Something About Mary, even filthy movies have elevated in class. Judd Apatow’s films and The Hangover have grown beyond jokes about bodily fluids and visual gags, opening up the doors for new and old directors to try their hands at making audiences laugh. We live in a time of comedy that’s balanced between foul-mouthed but likeable characters and the nasty situations they get themselves into. The Farrelly brother’s recent attempts at maintaining genre supremacy may not have worked out the way they planned but Hall Pass is a step in the right direction. While not without some exceptionally filthy humor the film isn’t rude or obnoxious enough to leave a bad aftertaste and is recommended for anyone looking to laugh.
Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play best friends who are happily married with beautiful wives but are a tad too unfocused, spending most of their time eyeballing other women or fantasizing about them. They don’t want to cheat necessarily but feel obliged to communicate with one another about how their lives are missing the excitement and wonder from their bachelor days. After their wives have enough of their male obsessions, Wilson and Sudeikis are both given hall passes, freeing them from marriage for a week and allowing them to have sex with whoever they want with no repercussions. Now obviously this could never happen, but it’s a Farrelly brother’s movie and Joy Behar’s cameo (in which she convinces the wives to give hall passes) is enough evidence that it could work in the movie.
What makes Hall Pass succeed is how the characters in the movie are represented. Wilson and Sudeikis are pathetic losers that have no social understanding outside of each other and they are completely unaware of this. Once they acquire the hall passes they think that it will be the most sex filled week of their lives with women waiting to pounce on them and the confusion on their faces after utter failure makes them watchable. They are trying and it’s entertaining seeing them struggle for the lifestyle they were yearning for.
The part that isn’t in the film’s trailer and ends up being the most surprising part of the movie is the focus on the other side of the marriage, the female viewpoint. Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer are the wives of Wilson and Sudeikis, who have given hall passes but figure out midway through that they are free from marriage for a week too. As beautiful women they don’t have to force men onto them, it just comes natural. Hall Pass flips between the men striking out and the women hitting it off with a bunch of guys, it finds a balance that will appeal to both sexes.
The cast works well with everyone getting a chance to show off their comedic attributes. Wilson and Sudeikis are naturals at improvising off one another and they are incredibly easy to watch as a couple of guys who don’t know what they just gave up. On the female side Fischer and Applegate are probably the most patient and loving wives in film history when it comes to their marriages but they don’t come across as clichéd versions of the nagging wife. They both have their moments of heartfelt emotion that gives their characters an added depth and a reason for why their husbands need them.
The supporting cast is always essential in a Farrelly brother’s movie and Richard Jenkins almost runs away with the movie as the men’s highly successful single friend. Unfortunately his screen time is limited and his Coakley character is necessary for this time of vulgar comedy. Same goes for the rest of the supporting cast, who are not in the movie long enough to make an impact. The dynamic between Wilson, Sudeikis and their male friends makes you wish the film would go the buddy comedy route between them all. The scenes where they take “special” brownies to the golf course and when they prepare for the week ahead of them at Applebee’s are the standouts.
Hall Pass includes some outrageous gags that border on disgusting, strictly aimed for shock value. They aren’t cheap laughs or even stupid, they’re just incredibly forced, but they don’t ruin the overall experience. If you watch this movie with no reservations of being upset easily then you’ll end up laughing more than you scoff. The characters end up making the movie easy to associate with and watchable. It’s not the best comedy to be released in the last couple years but it’s a good start for the Farrelly brother’s in their quest to reclaim the throne of comedy.
Hall Pass features a hilarious cast in a film that is consistently funny and very entertaining. The laughs rarely stop in this one.