Pass It By
To be honest I never really got the appeal of a Farrelly brother's movie, they just seemed to deliver movies which were little more than a series of crude gags but with little heart. There were of course exceptions, "There's Something About Mary" & "Kingpin" both had story to link the gags and whilst not that funny "The Perfect Catch" was kind of pleasant. But I just didn't get them and to be honest I didn't get "Hall Pass" either and the reason being, and it is a reason which dogged some of their other movies, the main characters are not likeable. And because they are not likeable you end up being on the outside watching in, not connecting with a character or their story, and just waiting and hoping that the next crude gag will actually be funny.
Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate) have grown tired of their husbands Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) behaving like jerks, staring at women and making lewd comments as if they were teenagers. So they decide to give them both a Hall Pass, a week off of marriage to get whatever it is out of their system once and for all. But Rick and Fred discover that being single for a week is not all they thought it would be and to Maggie and Grace's surprise they find themselves getting some unexpected attention.
What is kind of frustrating is that "Hall Pass" is actually a good idea for a movie, an idea which throws up various comical possibilities from beginning to end. Before you even get to the main part which is Rick and Fred getting a week off of marriage you have the element of them staring at women and making lewd comments not only thinking that they are getting away with being letches but also living a fantasy of having once been babe magnets who could still turn it on. It's a fun start but also a flawed start because neither Rick and Fred are the sort of characters you can warm to or even find amusing in their blatant and inept lechery.
Because you don't connect to Rick and Fred it causes the middle part of the movie, the week off of marriage to be just as flawed because to be honest you don't give too hoots whether they get laid or not. It does deliver the aspect that having become married then trying to be single is not as easy as they think and to be honest the series of scenes as one day after another wasted is amusing. But whilst amusing it also feels surprisingly lazy as we watch one thing go wrong on each day and before you know it they are on day 6 of their hall pass having wasted the first part of the week. Ironically it's watching what their wives Maggie and Grace get up to which ends up more entertaining because you can connect to the women, they are real people.
Of course a movie like this will have a feel good ending where Rick realises certain things as does Maggie, as well as Grace and Fred especially that being single is not as much fun as anyone thought it would be. But this ending is clouded in so much nonsense including an angry little DJ, a police chase and various other moments that are meant to amuse but rarely are.
Along with the fact that Rick and Fred are two jerks who are hard to like let alone feel for the comedy which the Farrelly's serve up is, well it's a bit old fashioned when you compare it to what Apatow serves up in his movies. Maybe once having Owen Wilson being rescued by a naked man with a giant cock was funny but now it just feels weak. The same can be said of angry little boyfriends, crude comments about going down on women and so much more. It almost feels like the humour in "Hall Pass" is what was once funny back at the tail end of the 90s but now feels lame.
The knock on effects of this is that no one really delivers that great a performance in "Hall Pass" be it Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer or Christina Applegate. They just seem to be struggling to make the humour work and it makes their characters all seem forced, even forced for a comedy. And even those in supporting roles such as Richard Jenkins and Stephen Merchant don't do any better.
What this all boils down to is that "Hall Pass" whilst not terrible seems surprisingly old fashioned with it's style and humour, more like a comedy from the 90s than 2011. It does have its moments and the actual idea is itself quite good but with characters which are hard too warm to and crude jokes thrown in with little purpose it is at times disappointing.