Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Hall Pass

Reviews For The Easily Distracted: Hall Pass

Title: Hall Pass

Directed By: The Farrelly Brothers.

The Something About Mary/Dumb and Dumber Farrelly Brothers? No, the Apocalypse Now Farrelly Brothers. Who do you think I'm talking about?

Wow, Where Have They Been? Not sure. Probably performing several thousand hours of community service to atone for 2007's remake of The Heartbreak Kid.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Joy Behars our of five.

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Brief Plot Synopsis: Rick and Fred are married men who have each been given a weeklong "hall pass" from their marriage. What could possibly go wrong?

You're A Married Man, How Commonplace Is This? Let's just say Indiana Jones riding out a nuclear blast in a refrigerator is no longer the most far-fetched thing I've ever seen in the movies.

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: The central conceit in Hall Pass is that marriages inevitably become boring and sexless (unless your husband is Ice T). Rick (Owen Wilson) has gotten so complacent he gets caught checking out another woman's ass right in front of wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer). Meanwhile his best friend Fred (Jason Sudeikis) resorts to to rubbing one out in the family minivan, the better to deal with his increasingly passionless marriage to Grace (Christina Applegate). Realizing their relationships need a kick in the ass, the wives give their husbands a week off to do...whatever their hearts desire. And while the men try to make the best usage of this time, the women realize they could use a break as well.

Why The "R" Rating? A handful of f-bombs, explosive diarrhea, and more male full frontal than my last high school reunion.

"Critical" Analysis: I won't lie; I laughed several times during Hall Pass. Oafish as the Farrellys often are, they film a good gag. I'm mostly a fan of their more outré selections (Kingpin, especially), so my guffaws were skewed heavily towards the first half of the movie, when Rick and Fred are still attempting to get their shit together.

Your overall enjoyment, however, is going to depend heavily on how comfortable you are with several laughable (and often insulting) comedy tropes. Specifically, that all middle-aged married men are clueless boobs (the pair's token black friend, who I almost believe was included solely because of a studio directive, being the exception), and that attractive young women somehow find this desirable. And if Rick and Fred getting carte blanche from their wives is hard for you to swallow, you'll definitely have some difficulty choking down the fact that Rick gets the moves put on him by both his kids' 20-year-old babysitter and Leigh, his improbably hot Australian barista (Nicky Whelan).

The former is one we see all the time, from According to Jim to your average prime time TV commercial, but what makes the latter so annoying is that after lamenting their domestic predicaments the two men do almost nothing with their new-found freedom. I know guys who -- given a furlough from matrimony -- would hire an RV, hoist a Jolly Roger, spray paint "S.S. Pussyhound" on the side, and camp out in the parking lot of the Bunny Ranch for seven days, not stammer their way through a massage parlor transaction like Fred does. In that respect, the two are perfect for marriage: they don't seem to ever want to have actual sex.

If the film (eventually) comes down on the side of institutional monogamy, it does so after dragging us through some predictable contortions. Maggie and Grace find themselves drawn to a minor league baseball coach and player, respectively, while Rick eventually has to confront Leigh's capital knockers. The circumstances leading everyone to potential adultery are CBS sitcom-level in their implausibility. On the other hand, if you're looking for plot cohesion in a Farrelly Brothers movie, perhaps you should get a hobby.

I hear good things about numismatics.

The movie does best when it abandons the schmaltz (a recent and unwelcome development in FB movies) and sticks to the Farrellys' strengths, namely left-field alternate reality sequences (the guys' token English friend features prominently in the best one) and unabashed scatology. They seem to come by their sentimentalism honestly, but still haven't figured out the best way to combine it with feces and dick jokes.

Why Joy Behar? She plays the wives' therapist friend who gives them the hall pass idea. Poorly.

Hall Pass is in theaters today. You should probably know actual marriages don't work this way.


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