Friday, 19 April 2013

Hall Pass (2011)

The Farrelly Brothers have come a long way since their paean to all things dumb, Dumb & Dumber, cleaned up at the box office. From that great starting point we’ve had the good (There’s Something AboutMary), the bad (okay, they only produced Say It Isn’t So, but their names were all over the marketing) and the divisive (Me, Myself & Irene and Stuck On You are two movies I really like but not everyone feels the same way). And now there’s Hall Pass.

Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play two married men who are given what seems like a fantastic gift from their loving wives - a hall pass. A hall pass is, in the context of the film, a week off from marriage. The guys can relive their days of bachelorhood and get everything out of their system before returning to the family home and settling back down for the rest of their lives. With no restrictions, the two men should obviously be able to live out those fantasies that they've been harbouring for years. Well, while the theory is sound it turns out that the two men are a bit rusty when it comes to actually making any real moves towards ladies.

Written and directed by those Farrelly funsters (Bobby and Peter, who were both helped out in the scripting department by Pete Jones and Kevin Barnett), Hall Pass is an amusing comedy very much in the vein of their past works. There's plenty of refreshing honesty mixed in with the laughs, at least one gross moment and many lines of dialogue guaranteed to offend anyone who wants to be easily offended. Sadly, there aren't any memorable set-pieces and the whole thing suffers from the presence of Sudeikis (he was okay in Horrible Bosses, but I have no idea why the man is being given lead roles - he may get to deliver funny lines but he's not a talented comedic performer).

Thankfully, the cast also includes the lovely Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Nicky Whelan, Stephen Merchant and Richard Jenkins. And Owen Wilson, of course. Some people don't like his standard laid back schtick. I do. There are also appearances from Farrelly regulars such as Rob Moran and Danny Murphy, while Vanessa Angel, Lauren Bowles and even Alyssa Milano join in the fun.

I laughed quite a few times while watching Hall Pass, but there were only two gags that made me laugh hard - one involving Wilson and two naked men and the other moment took place at the very end of the film - and I just don't think that's good enough for a film with this cast and those men behind the camera (yeah, yeah, roll your eyes all you want, I have loved a number of their past films).

It would seem that, for a change, most audience members agreed on this one. It had a fairly high budget for a comedy ($36M, apparently) and didn't exactly provide a rip-roaring return on that investment. Meaning that we've probably been spared a Hall Pass 2. At least that is an extra reason to smile.


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