Bottom line: A-
Hall Pass, the new comedy from directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Stuck on You) is about two married couples who agree to “take a week off from marriage,” supposedly to allow the husbands a chance to experience single life with no consequences from the wives. In an interview about the film, Peter Farrelly and writer Pete Jones, who drove in from nearby Deerfield, IL, discussed the chemistry on set, the plethora of penis jokes and how to keep characters relatable.
Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play Rick and Fred, the two lewd husbands looking for a good time and the sex they feel they’ve missed out on during their marriage. Though initially off-putting, the two actors play their roles to such perfection that you root for them anyway. Part of this is the remarkable chemistry between the two actors, and the credit is all theirs — as Jones explains, “We just got lucky.” The creative team behind the movie already had Wilson in mind for the role when the studio suggested hiring Sudeikis, and the easy camaraderie turned out to be a happy coincidence. With their on-screen shorthand, it’s obvious the two actors became good friends.
The plot of the film seems just as effortless. A series of hilariously offensive remarks lands the pair in such hot water that their wives, Maggie and Grace (played by The Office’s Jenna Fischer and pre-baby Christina Applegate), issue them one-week “hall passes” and go off to Maggie’s beach house. Shockingly enough, after many years of marriage, the guys are a bit out of shape, scouring Applebee’s for dates. The subsequent scenes of bar-hopping, male bonding and, of course, marijuana use are reminiscent of The Hangover. There’s even a little angry man destroying Fred’s car, and there’s no shortage of nudity or penis jokes, which, according to Farrelly, do not get old “when they’re done well.” The gags are memorable in their raunchiness — there’s one scene in particular that may rival Mary’s “hair gel” scene as the most surprising (and disgusting) Farrelly gag.
Farrelly said the secret to the character’s likabilty is the distinctly unlikable, and Hall Pass proves this idea. Remarkably enough, the final product is more sentimental than anything, with developed, flawed-but-good characters and surprising closure. Sure, almost everyone in the film participates in some questionable behavior, but they get punched in the face for it (or something to that effect).