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Hall Pass

USA 2011
Directed by
Bobby Farrelly / Peter Farrelly
105 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

Hall Pass

Synopsis: Rick (Owen Wilson) is granted a week “off” his marriage by his wife (Jenna Fischer) and is joined by his friend, Fred (Jason Sudeikis) as they set about getting laid.

The Farrelly brothers were crowned kings of multiplex comedy way back in 1998 thanks to There’s Something About Mary but in recent years they have lost the rather grubby mantle to the likes of Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin, 2005) and Todd Phillips (The Hangover, 2009). Hall Pass is not going to get it back for them. The movie well exemplifies their problem -  though no doubt they did not intended it so - that they are too old to be doing this shit.

There is a deep-seated juvenile strain in mainstream American comedy and people like Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell have made their fortunes pandering to it. Hall Pass plays very much to this tradition but it is a desperate addition. For the concept to work it needed a time machine but unfortunately for the Farellys this has recently been done (in Steve Pink’s Hot Tub Time Machine, 2010). The core issue of the loss of libido that comes with prolonged co-habitation, needless to say,  has plenty of comedic potential but the Farrelly’s handling of it is completely brainless. Given leave of duty, the supposed 40 somethings set about re-living their sexually-torrid bachelor days. Except, being chronic dorks, they never had any such days.  The  “guy” options they pursue are mind-numbingly clichéd (ditto for the "girls") as the brothers and their co-writers set about wedging as many word and sight gags dealing with cunnilingus, fellatio, anal sex, male masturbation,  vaginas, penises, breasts, defecation and incontinence as they can into the mechanically formulaic and essentially misogynistic narrative that gradually spins out of control before resolving to a predictable finale. The bar is set about as low as it can go and the closer your sense of humour is to it, the funnier you will find all this. 

Hall Pass reflects well on no-one involved in its making and Owen Wilson, as the major draw-card, should apologize to his fans for dragging them through it. Presumably to suck up to the Australian market, former Neighbours starlet, Nicky Whelan, gets a guernsey as a hot waitress but on the strength of her performance here she should be seeing if she can get her old job back. About the only thing of note is Richard Jenkins who was Oscar-nominated in 2007 for his role in The Visitor playing an over-the-hill pick-up artist. If you must see Hall Pass, leave it until the DVD comes out. You won't have long to wait and you'll be close to a shower.




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