Hall Pass, directed and co-written by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, is a welcome showing of why these two endeared themselves to Americans in 1998 with their hit There’s Something About Mary. As the progenitors of the modern “gross-out” comedy genre, the Farrelly Brothers have repeatedly shown themselves willing to do anything to get a laugh out of their audiences; however, this approach can be very hit-or-miss, and their movies in between There’s Something About Mary and Hall Pass have largely been misses. With Hall Pass, however, they once again flex their gross-out muscles and give their viewers proof that their striking, patently offensive and hilarious sense of humor hasn’t gone away at all.
While the movie’s marketing materials largely show Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) having the most fun and engaging in all manner of frat-boy antics, the story is just as much about their respective spouses, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate). These two couples are starting to feel depressed and neglected after having been married for quite some time, often resorting to extreme measures to satisfy oneself, either mentally or sexually. After receiving some advice from a counselor friend, Maggie and Grace give their men a “hall pass” – a week’s vacation from their marriages, enabling them to do whatever or whomever they want, while the women go for a vacation in Cape Cod. The mere notion of the hall pass can be fraught with such real-life pitfalls as disease and unwanted pregnancy, but the film completely skips over these concerns and instead offers a harsh reality check to all involved. Rick and Fred are no longer the slick Casanovas they think they are; their married friends, all wanting to live vicariously through them, are soon disappointed in the resulting non-action they’re getting. Conversely, Maggie and Grace are left wondering if the hall pass isn’t just for their men, but for themselves as well, after considering some of the men in Cape Cod…
A term that is highly overused is how much “heart” something has, whether it be a person, a story, a film, a piece of music, what have you – but there is no avoiding it here. Regardless of how much comic nudity, vulgarity or awkwardness may be inherent in a Farrelly Brothers movie, there’s always a sense of decency – no matter how skewed – behind it all. Be it the steadfastness of Rick’s character or the “lesson learned” moments that each character has, this movie has its heart in the right place. Like I said, this film is a welcome return to form for the Farrelly Brothers, who keep the laughter and the crude humor coming until the final credit rolls. Hall Pass could have easily gone down many dark and twisted roads; instead, the Farrelly Brothers keep it relatively sane and grounded, making each situation more accessible to its audience.
And if you’re wondering why this review is so non-specific, it’s for fear of spoilers and ruining the good time you, the reader, could have with this movie. Hall Pass is worth many good laughs, no matter how shocked you may be at what you see on screen or hear coming out of characters’ mouths. Its efforts to keep the audience engaged and on edge for the next hilarious stunt or moment seldom go unrewarded; there is no denying that the Farrelly Brothers still know how to get what they want out of you with each exaggerated absurdity.
You will squeal in disgust.
You will cringe in horror.
But above all else, you will laugh. A lot.
Be sure to stay in your seats all the way until the end of the credits, as there are two mid-credits scenes and one post-credits outtake.
FINAL GRADE: B+
TRR Movie Revue by Eddie Pasa