Starting today's cavalcade of reviews of recent home releases is the New Line comedy Hall Pass, which recently bowed in an "extended cut" Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. Here's my review.
If you saw the commercials, you pretty much got the gist of Hall Pass. Yes, it's another comedy about some guys (in this case, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) who go out and get themselves into R-rated trouble. I thought there were too many of these movies before this, and having watched this, I still hold to that opinion.
There are a few things going for it, namely that there's a decent cast here. I saw Sudeikis make a recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and I thought he was pretty amusing. He has a deadpan way about him that I like. In the roles of the longsuffering spouses are Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer, two welcome familiar faces. Unfortunately, this also works against them - because I look at them and remember that they've done much better work elsewhere.
Now, let's be fair here. This is a movie from the Farrelly brothers - the people who brought us Dumb and Dumber - so I was not expecting highbrow comedy. Yet there's only so much crude humor I can watch, particularly when it's clear that there's not much beyond that. Take, for example, FX's Archer, which makes inappropriate jokes left and right but also draws humor from other places as well. Hall Pass is basically moving from one setpiece to the next, wherein its two protagonists embarrass themselves over and over again, putting their various flaws on display. Meanwhile, not to be entirely forgotten, the women have their subplot where they are, of course, perfectly fine without their other halves. You've seen this all before.
Also, the "extended cut" is a mere seven minutes longer - and only included on the Blu-Ray, not on the DVD that comes with this combo pack. You're not missing much, just more crude humor.
The Blu-Ray Discs
As this is a Blu-Ray set, there aren't any packaging issues to deal with. That's one thing I love about Blu-Ray - uniform packaging that looks great on the shelf and is easy to manage.
You'll find forced trailers on this set, but they can be skipped, and lead you into menus complete with clips and audio that are pretty easy to navigate.
Specs-wise, you do have the option of choosing between the theatrical and extended cuts on the Blu-Ray. The BR is presented in 1080p HD 16:9 widescreen, with an HD audio track. Here's where things get dicey, though: the extended cut is much less accessible than the theatrical one. The EC has English 5.1 audio only, but English, French and Spanish subtitles. In contrast, the theatrical cut also offers French and Spanish audio. I have to wonder...when the difference in content is a mere six minutes, why not just add the extra audio options to both versions?
Regardless, Hall Pass gets a decent transfer. There's nothing special about it, but there's nothing bad about it either; colors come through well and the sound is fair. It's watchable, which is all you can really ask for.
The Special Features
There's a paltry selection of bonus material for Hall Pass. You get one additional scene and a very brief gag reel. It adds up, in total, to about six minutes. Neither adds that much to the experience.
I'm sure that it's harder to find special features for a film like this, but I still can't help but feel disheartened for the people who'll plunk down money for a nearly empty set. When you're spending anywhere between $20-30 for a Blu-Ray (depending on where you shop), I think you should get a little more back than just the movie - particularly now, when you could watch the movie for cheaper via streaming, on demand or broadcast.
The special features are also not included on the DVD included with this set, which makes me guess that they are probably not available on the stand-alone DVD - basically forcing you to buy Blu if you want any bonuses. I have never liked this tactic, but on a film like this where the features are so paltry, it's no big loss.
This is just my opinion, but I think Jason Sudeikis would've delivered an interesting commentary track. Oh, well.
The Bottom Line
It's not a memorable movie, and it's a nearly bare-bones release. Unless you truly enjoyed it and think you'll watch it often enough to justify the purchase price ($23 on Amazon as of this writing), this is best left as a rental.