Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hall Pass - Movie Review


Starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant, Nicky Whelan, Joy Behar, JB Smoove, Tyler Hoechlin and Alexandra Daddario.
Directed by the Farrelly Brothers.

The Farrellys may have made the funniest raunch-comedy of the 1990's, but nothing they've attempted since has been able to recapture that magic. This one is another swing and a miss.

In some ways, I didn't dislike it as much as I thought I would, because I see a lot of promise in some of their set-ups and scenarios. The main problem is that most of the comic energy doesn't really arrive until the last half-hour.

Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are two buddies who've hit forty and are married, but they still gawk at attractive women like they're a pair of frat buddies. Their wives (Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate) are annoyed by their immature behavior, and the table is therefore laid in an unappealing manner. The wives are two-dimensional shrews, and the guys are clueless dweebs.

After a self-help author-friend convinces the wives to give their husbands a one-week "hall pass" - a week off from marriage where they can sleep around with no consequences - the boys go into horny anticipatory overdrive. The joke here though is that the guys have been out of the game so long, they don't really know how to proceed.

Pete Jones, winner of the first Project Greenlight season, helped with the story, and that's probably where a lot of the sweetness comes in. For me though, the movie didn't really start working until an hour in, when Owen Wilson gives a comeback monologue against a snarky coffee-house employee. The movie has consequences for their actions and I liked how some of the plot threads tied together at the end, but it can't save a first hour of laugh-free dullness.

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