Rated R for crude and sexual humor throughout, language, some graphic nudity and drug use, 98 minutes
More of the same Farrelly schtick in "Hall Pass"
Poor Owen Wilson, he can't seem to catch a good break as of late as his last two films have been met with wildly mixed results. "The Little Fockers" was a box-office hit trashed by critics (including this one), and the romantic comedy "How Do You Know" was an outright flop in every way.
Now Wilson headlines the new Farrelly Brothers crowd-pleasing comedy "Hall Pass," that examines what it'd be like to have one week "off" from marriage to do anything you please i.e. a hall pass. With a paper-thin premise, outrageous gags that come across as desperate and funnier cast members than Wilson, "Hall Pass" unfortunately doesn't quite cut it, but the film will probably still make money.
A married man (Wilson) is granted the opportuniy for a one-week "hall pass" by his wife (Jenna Fischer) to do anything he wants, in hopes of improving their sagging marriage. Joined in the fun by his best pal (Jason Sudeikis) and his wife (Christina Applegate), things get a little out of control when both wives start having a little fun of their own as well.
"Hall Pass" is a forgettably raunchy, mildly enjoyable comedy with some low-brow gags that will likely make it at least a modest hit. "Hall Pass" directors and writer-brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly are the M. Night Shyamalan of movie comedies; they've been working hard to re-create the magic of a couple hits they had back in the '90s (yes, it's been that long) with "Dumb and Dumber" and "Something About Mary," much like Shyamalan has been attempting to do from "The Sixth Sense." Note to the filmmakers: it's no longer the '90s and times have certainly changed, we do not have be shocked into laughs.
There are a few reasons that "Hall Pass" doesn't work as well as it should. For one, those "shocking" Farrelly moments from earlier outings now seem desperate, with a pair of penises, some vomit and a dump their attempts to be amusing (they're not, and in the case of the vomit scene, just plain digusting). On top of that, Wilson isn't used to good effect here (i.e. he isn't as funny), and as the "other couple," "Saturday Night Live's" Sudeikis and "Samantha Who's" Applegate upstage the bland Wilson and an even blander Fischer with better lines and in Sudeikis' case, better physical comedy.
Lastly, the film's premise, widely known by now, is ultra-thin, with everything else, including a woefully contrived climax, remarkably tame filler given what actually happens. Sure, there are a few sporadic reflex laughs, which could describe the film itself: mildly funny but overall a tame effort. Don't feel too sorry for the likable Wilson, he's still paid for these things, as are the Farrelly's (I can only imagine how their upcoming Three Stooges film will turn out), and hopefully Wilson will be seen or heard to better effect later this year in Woody Allen's new rom com and in Pixar's animated "Cars 2."
"Hall Pass" isn't a great date movie, likely appealing only to young males who enjoy this type of thing. Go if you must, but you may regret it later (especially if you're on a date), this is more of a rental.
Wes's Grade: C