February 25, 2011

Hall Pass

Gettin' Jiggly wit It

Grade: B –

Director: Bobby and Peter Farrelly

Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, and Nicky Whelan

MPAA Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr. 38 mins.

Hall Pass is about how the value of frivolity and youthful indiscretion dissipates with the adulthood. Interestingly, the same thing could be said about the value of Farrelly Brothers’ comedy. Even being generous, the scatology siblings haven’t made a good movie since Me, Myself & Irene in the year 2000 B.A (Before Apatow).

With age comes a change in viewpoint, and the funniest parts of Hall Pass aren’t the redundant, rehashed toilet humor and full frontal nudity. They’re the snapshots of arrested masculinity and matrimony, suburban schmos wedded to their fully loaded minivans and sleep apnea masks who are also expected to take their wives shoe shopping and to Kathy Griffin concerts.

Yet, full emasculation still doesn’t afford Rick (Owen Wilson), a plaid-wearing real estate agent, and Fred (Jason Sudeikis, Saturday Night Live), a boorish life insurance salesman, the right to glance at another woman from behind. So, their better but semi-bitter halves, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), latch onto some pop psychology and granted their hubbies a week-long “hall pass”: a time-out from marriage and purported license to sow their wild oats. Or, maybe “shredded wheat” is a more age-appropriate term.

Either way, the premise is contrived and lazy. The joke, however, is that Rick and Fred are even more inept as bachelors than when shackled by marriage. Once-cool ‘80s lingo falls thunderously flat; they trawl Applebee’s for chicks but just end up tiring themselves out by 9pm. And, when either actually manages to snare some strange – including Rick’s rapport with a busty blond Aussie barista (Nicky Whelan) – they react like the proverbial dog who doesn’t know what to do with the car once he catches it.

Ironically, the humor in Hall Pass falters when it doesn’t act its age (personified by Richard Jenkins playing a gold chain-wearing, middle-aged lothario). When making a film supposedly about the inextricable path to and embrace of maturation, it is best to leave the poop and masturbation jokes to the Dennis Dugans of the world.

Neil Morris

No comments: