If you have been a married man for a long time, occasionally you may look at a pretty young thing walking down the street, and fantasize about being single again. You may believe that without “the old ball and chain” you could be living it up. The filmmaking duo Peter and Bobby Farrelly, will give you a hilarious reality check in their comedy “Hall Pass” though.
The film’s main characters Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are married men that suffer from similar delusions of grandeur. They have grown weary of the monotony of marriage, and they are annoyed by the lack intimacy that their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), show them now that they are busy with kids and work.
Rick and Fred have learned to deal with their sexual frustration by checking out the women they see in passing. Essentially they save up these mental snapshots for later on when they’re alone. This becomes a problem for them though, because they gawk at other women too much to realize their wives are onto their games.
Unsure of how to handle their husbands’ ogling, Maggie and Grace seek the advice of a mutual friend Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar). She suggests that they allow their husbands a “hall pass,” or in other words, a week off from marriage, so that they can get the angst out of their systems.
At first they are against the idea, but after the two women reach their respective breaking points, they reluctantly grant hall passes to their husbands. Rick and Fred stay in town, while their wives take a vacation of their own.
From there, the men embark on a series of comical misadventures as they attempt to pick up women after years of inexperience. Along the way though, they come to the realization that their wives have the same ability to pursue affairs, so they start to reconsider their decision to accept this hall pass.
Owen Wilson’s character leans more conservative and responsible than the goofier more perverted one played by Jason Sudeikis. Normally Wilson plays cocky, irresponsible characters, so it’s nice to see him in a different role. Much of the humor in the film is derived from these two actors in their exchanges and bad pickup lines, though honorable mention should definitely go to Brit Stephen Merchant, whose bit part as one of their married friends adds quite a few laughs.
In many ways “Hall Pass” is a traditional Farrelly Brothers movie because it contains the slapstick comedy and the gross-out humor that they are famous for, but where it differs from its predecessors is that it addresses the slightly more mature theme of marriage. Even though the story’s protagonists are guys, the Farrellys fairly provide equal screen time to the wives and their exploits, which prove that the women have the same temptations and opportunities as their men. Through their collective experience, the two couples undergo a mid-life coming of age which is funny and strangely heartwarming.
One thing that detracts from the film is an uneven pacing of jokes which can slow the rhythm down and leave some patches a bit sparse. In addition, the movie’s trailer annoyingly spoils some of the better one-liners. Fans of the buddy comedy genre and of the Farrelly brothers will still have an enjoyable time however. Husbands will have fun too, they’ll just think twice about the challenges faced by Rick and Fred, the next time they consider the single life.
My Grade: B+