Dick jokes, check. Boob jokes, check. Immature sexual humor, check. Embarrassing pick up lines, check. A huge lumbering black penis that lingers a little too close to your face, check. No, this isn’t a normal night of a sorority girl at a wild frat party, its business as usual for the Farrelly brothers. When the film is over and the Farrelly’s names show up on screen it’s not a huge surprise even if you didn’t know they directed the film because the style of comedy is very similar to their previous comedies like ME MYSELF & IRENE and THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. However, HALL PASS has one secret weapon that those films didn’t have, Jason Sudeikis. Sudeikis easily makes this film funnier than it had any right to be, largely due to the way he delivers his lines and facial expressions. HALL PASS is about as mature as a horny junior high kid snickering at the word penis in his sex education class, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t get a lot of great laughs out of it.
Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Rick (Owen Wilson) are a typical married couple with three kids. Maggie has become very concerned about Rick’s obsession with sex and his non subtle ways of checking out other women in front of her. She’s presented with an idea that if you give your significant other the freedom to pursue his urges he will get it out of his system and realize how happy he is with his wife, thus strengthening the relationship. Rick and his buddy Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are both given a week free from their marriage while their wives are out of town, free to get into tons of wild and hilarious shenanigans.
The biggest draw to HALL PASS is Jason Sudeikis, plain and simple. Aside from all the sight gags and over the top physical comedy, Sudeikis just has some great comedic chops. I honestly believe that he can turn even the worst script into something we can all get a big laugh at. Owen Wilson on the other hand, with the goofy hair style and fashion sense looks old, tired and boring. Wilson is given a few funny lines here and there, otherwise I found him painfully unfunny throughout the film. Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer also have a few moments to shine but are far from being the focus of the comedy. I will say though, that if full frontal male nudity shown on screen for uncomfortable amounts of time makes you uncomfortable and will make or break your enjoyment I strongly suggest passing on this one. No spoiler alert though since the scene in no way propels the story forward, but if that spoils the movie for you, please accept my deepest apologies.
There are really other aspects of the film you can get into an in depth discussion over. There is definitely a reliance on sight gags to illicit laughs throughout the film, I don’t want to spoil too many of them cause not knowing they are coming is what will make them funny. HALL PASS is another one of those comedies that has no intention of changing your life in any profound way, but it has a level of sincerity and heart, in a passing glance kind of way.
HALL PASS is the perfect movie to watch in a crowded theater with a bunch of people looking to have a good time. It’s full of off the wall comedy, tasteless sex jokes, gross sight gags and drunken hijinx which always add up to a fun night for an audience that knows that’s what they want. It’s a film about middle age couples stuck in a rut, which might even find an audience that can relate to similar marital troubles, but HALL PASS looks at these issues from a very skewed and unrealistic point of view.
My biggest complaint that I just can’t get around is Owen Wilson. As I mentioned before he has a couple of good lines, but overall he’s just very stiff and boring. In WEDDING CRASHERS he was funny and energetic but his performance here, even for raunchy R rated comedy standards is uninspired. Anyone else could have been cast in this role and it would have been much more fun. I can’t say enough good things about Sudeikis though; he’s very close to being one of my favorite comedic actors working today. He pulls off a great mix of charm and junior high immaturity and his involvement is worth the price of admission.
Overall, HALL PASS scoots by on the sex deprived shoulders of Jason Sudeikis and the signature Farrelly brothers’ over the top comedy. There is a faint glimpse of heart behind the insanity, but it’s buried by layers upon layers of expelled bodily fluids, penis shots, boobs, infidelity, psycho DJ’s, drug laced brownies and massage parlor happy endings. If you like the Farrelly brothers then in all likelihood you’ll love HALL PASS, and if they accomplish one thing from this, it’s that ‘fake chow’ will be used pretty liberally among male friends for years to come.