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Author: JoAnne Hyde
February 24, 2011
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SYNOPSIS: Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are best friends who have a lot in common, including the fact that they have each been married for many years. But when the two men begin to show signs of restlessness at home, their wives (Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate) take a bold approach to revitalizing their marriages: granting them a "hall pass," one week of freedom to do whatever they want...no questions asked. At first, it sounds like a dream come true for Rick and Fred. But it isn't long before they discover that their expectations of the single life-and themselves-are completely, and hilariously, out of sync with reality.

Hall Pass, the Farrelly Brothers’ new film, is raunchy, vulgar, gleefully inappropriate – and hilarious! Face it: you don’t go to one of their films expecting an intellectual experience, so if you like this genre, you’ll like this film. It’s derivative of several other popular films of this genre, such as The Hangover, Couple’s Retreat, and Due Date. In other words, there are many sight gags involving bodily functions and fluids, and many jokes involving sex in its many forms. This movie is very funny, but it’s Owen Wilson who puts a human face on all the silliness and prevents it from being just another fart joke.

Wilson plays Rick, happily married to Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and father of three. He’s a guy, however, and when Maggie overhears (via baby monitor) him and his friends talking about how much they’d pay for a sexual encounter with a super model, she begins to think that he’s dissatisfied with his life. Fred, Rick’s best friend, played by Jason Sudeikis, is in on the imaginary shenanigans, so when his wife Grace (Christina Applegate) and Maggie overhear more complaining and fantasizing via a neighbor’s elaborate security system, they decide to give their husbands a “hall pass”. The idea came from a psychologist/author friend (Joy Behar in a cameo) who explained it as a week-long break from marriage: nothing off limits and no questions asked. Maggie, the kids, and Grace will go to Maggie’s parents’ beach cottage in Cape Cod, so the guys can have free rein.

The viewer realizes that these late-30’s, suburban professionals have no idea what they’re doing when they go to Appleby’s to pick up hot babes. In fact, you quickly realize that all the talk and references to their college success with women is based more on imagination than reality. Of course, several of their envious friends come along at first to see first-hand all the misbehaving. Most of the early laughs come from the guys’ absurd attempts to pick up women – mainly much younger women. Later in the film, they get a tutorial from their friend Coakley (Richard Jenkins), a kind of terminal bachelor/playboy, albeit an aging one, who wants to help them get their game on. Meanwhile, Maggie and Grace are getting some unexpected male attention at Cape Cod from some college-age baseball players and their coach ,and coming to terms with their own “blahs” about marriage. Does anyone really score? Let’s just say that one does and then regrets it immediately and deeply. If you’re looking for a message in this film, that’s as close as you’ll get: the very wide gulf between fantasy and reality.

The R rating is well-deserved; this is no movie for youngsters. There’s full-frontal male nudity (not just a glimpse, either), a couple of gross-out scenes involving fecal matter, much drunkenness and drug-related blundering, and of course, endless references to sex. Not much actual sex, though. Although Jason Sudeikis and Christina Applegate’s characters often seem more like caricatures, Owen Wilson and Jenna Fischer’s characters give the movie a heart. If you’re easily offended by any of the aforementioned situations, you’re probably not going to see the film anyway. If you’re up for the occasional bawdy laugh and dirty joke, then you’ll find the film to your liking.

GRADE: B+


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JoAnne Hyde Likes film.
She likes to write.
So she combines those two loves by reviewing films for BOF

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