DVD Release Date: June 14, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: February 25, 2011
Rating: R (for crude and sexual humor throughout, language, some graphic nudity and drug use)
Run Time: 105 min.
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Actors: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant, Tyler Hoechling, Joy Behar, Kathy Griffin
Long before Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Sacha Baron Cohen (Bruno, Borat), and Todd Phillips (Due Date, The Hangover) were shocking moviegoers with seriously below-the-belt humor and the juvenile acts of men who simply refuse to grow up, the Farrelly Brothers were the kings of gross-out comedy, thanks to Dumb & Dumber, There's Something About Mary and Kingpin.
But even guys obsessed with sex and all things scatological still have a beating heart underneath presumably, so with future projects like Shallow Hal, Stuck on You and The Heartbreak Kid, the Farrellys tried serving up a little substance with the swill. The result? Drastically diminished box office returns.
So with Hall Pass, they're returning to what they know best, and trust me, it's not pretty. If anything, the unexpected success of 2009's The Hangover has empowered them (and every other R-rated comedian) to dream up even dirtier jaw-dropping antics that fly in the face of anything resembling good taste. Well, unless your comedic cup of tea involves public defecation or a couple of married forty-something protagonists who shamelessly leer at any remotely attractive woman, even with their wives (who didn't exactly get beaten with an ugly stick, mind you) by their side.
In fact, it's the latter behavior that inspired the movie's title. After Rick's (Owen Wilson) and Fred's (Jason Sudeikis) respective spouses (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) start feeling like they aren't good enough because of the husbands' constant wandering eyes, they eventually heed the unconventional advice of a marriage counselor (Joy Behar) and issue them a hall pass—basically a week off from marriage so they can sow their wild oats.
Of course, Maggie (Fischer) and Grace (Applegate) believe this ridiculous plan will actually help strengthen their marriages by allowing their men to briefly experience the freedom that fidelity doesn't provide. In the end, they hope Rick and Fred will realize how great they've got it. Meanwhile, as you've probably already guessed, the guys are absolutely thrilled by the prospect of living out their fantasies guilt-free and immediately draw up an elaborate battle plan.
Trouble is, they've been out of the game so long that they don't know the first thing about picking up women. As card-carrying members of suburbia, they naturally assume the local Applebee's is the hottie spot du jour. And after binging on calorie-laden appetizers and alcohol with their equally dim-witted pals, their week as "newly single men" only gets worse from there (insert countless raunchy gags here).
Truth be told, there's probably not enough space to elaborate on just how mindless, insulting and lame this movie is. Not only does it have a low-budget look with horrible lighting and sloppy editing that does these actors absolutely no favors, but these characters share very little in common with anyone in the real world. How could men with respectable jobs, loving wives and in Rick's case, three kids, be this immature? It's almost if their lives were scripted in a locker room by a bunch of junior high guys.
Interestingly enough, however, there is a decidedly pro-marriage message nestled in all the muck as Rick and Fred eventually discover that life as swinging singles isn't nearly as glamorous as they imagined. But considering the screenwriters devoted all their attention to disgusting set-ups and didn't bother with a little thing called character development, we never understand why Rick inevitably turns down the object of all that shameless ogling. Where exactly did that change of heart come from? Or should we just chalk it up to a random jolt of conscience?
While the Farrelly Brothers said in a recent interview with USA Today that they viewed Hall Pass as "an old-fashioned story with conservative principles," the aforementioned shift in tone is still jarring and unconvincing. After all, no one should have to sit through nearly two hours of trashiness to learn that sex without commitment is empty. But when the morality tale is something the Farrellys have fashioned, well, it's probably not surprising that the lesson would be ensconced in such an unappealing wrapper. Considering they're already in their 50s, growing up, let alone good taste, may never be in the cards.
Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, instances of public drunkenness, plus an extended scene where Rick, Fred and their equally clueless buddies eat way too many pot brownies while golfing at the local country club.
Language/Profanity: The whole gamut of expletives are used throughout—sh--, fu--, as-, da--, he--, plus instances where the Lord's name is taken in vain and paired with da--.
Sex/Nudity: Frank discussion of everything from male and female oral sex to porn (including a particularly graphic URL that Fred claims he gets his weather report from) to crass commentary on male and female anatomy and what to do with it in the bedroom. After Grace turns down Fred's advances, Fred hightails it to the family minivan and masturbates. Eventually the local police catch him in the act, but instead of confronting him, the officer motions the other officers over so they can get a look, too. A man removes his shorts at the country club (we see his bare backside) so he can get rid of the pot brownies right on the golf course. At the sauna, Rick gets a very up-close-and-personal look at two guys' genitalia. The camera zooms right in for maximum gross-out effect. While using his "hall pass," Rick considers getting busy with the cute barista he's always flirting with. She's happy to oblige and takes off her top (her bare breasts are shown). Another one of the main characters who's married sleeps with someone who's not her husband and later regrets it (nothing but kissing is shown).
Violence: Shots are fired when Gerry (Tyler Hoechling) thinks Rick hooked up with his fellow barista pal. There's also some violence of the comic variety (people getting kicked in inappropriate places, etc.)
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.