* (out of 5)
Febuary 25, 2011
Owen Wilson as RICK
Jason Sudeikis as FRED
Jenna Fischer as MAGGIE
Christina Applegate as GRACE
Nicky Whelan as LEIGH
Richard Jenkins as COAKLEY
Directed by: The Farrelly Brothers
BY KEVIN CARR
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Remember the 1990s? It was a time of baggy pants and wine coolers. It was also the time when we saw a new era of filmmakers break some molds. The Farrelly Brothers were such a team. They made a splash with “Dumb and Dumber” and helped make Jim Carrey a star. They later made a huge splash with “There’s Something About Mary,” which redefined the raunchy comedy from the 80s standards of “Porky’s” and “Revenge of the Nerds.”
In the 90s, one might have been tempted to think of the Farrelly Brothers as the new comedy wave of the future.
Then came a new century, and along with it a wash of hideously awful Farrelly Brothers movies like “Shallow Hal,” “Stuck On You,” “Fever Pitch” and “The Heartbreak Kid.” Oh, how far have these mighty comedic brothers fallen?
They strike a new low (which is saying something after the cinematic disaster that was “The Heartbreak Kid”) with “Hall Pass.” This is one of those films that really flew under the radar and ended up on theaters screens in the middle of February on Oscar weekend. And there’s a good reason for it. Being sandwiched between a “Big Momma’s House” threequel and the impending Academy Awards ceremony hides it in the brush of the multiplex.
The premise is ridiculous and a stretch, even for Hollywood. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play middle-aged husbands who are given a “hall pass” from their wives for a week. This allows them to do whatever they want – and whomever they want – for six days without fear or consequence.
The bulk of the film cobbles together awkward, random and unfunny gags about guys in their late-30s and early 40s trying to be cool like they were in college. Sadly, most of these jokes seem to be scraped off the sticky editing room floor from the Farrellys’ other films. Oh, if you want to be shocked by watching Jason Sudeikis masturbate in a minivan while two police officers peep in on him… or if you want to see Owen Wilson almost slapped in the face with a ten-inch, semi-erect penis… or if you want to watch a woman literally shit herself while sneezing… then this is your movie.
I like bathroom humor, and I like low-brow humor, but the Farrellys could learn a lot from their own past movies, which handled these things with more finesse and humor than the slap-and-tickle nature of this film.
If you can swallow the premise of the movie (which is about as realistic as the gorgeous Natalie Portman playing a successful doctor who just wants to have sex in “No Strings Attached” or tubby Adam Sandler having to juggle Brooklyn Decker and Jennifer Aniston in “Just Go With It”), you might find some moments funny, but “Hall Pass” doesn’t pass the smell test. It ignores certain realities (like the guys flying to Vegas to have a weekend of drunken whoring… or even just heading down to the strip club to tie one on and get a tug-job after a big tip on a couch dance) and simply doesn’t flow.
There was only one joke in this movie that actually made me laugh. It comes in the middle, and it involves Larry Joe Campbell talking about poop. Oh, and at least there’s a pay-off with Nicky Whelan (whom you might remember as the sizzling hot blond Aussie med student from “Scrubs: Season Nine”) showing off her fantastic bare breasts. But honestly, as beautiful as she looks with no shirt on, it’s not worth sifting through the rubble of this film to see them.