Movie Review: Hall Pass (2011)
The Farrelly brothers hit a high point with Dumb and Dumber (which is kind of sad since that was their debut as filmmakers), but it seems like they’ve been on a downward spiral ever since. There’s Something About Mary was probably more popular and there was a little bit of buzz surrounding Me, Myself, and Irene, but everything else the Farrelly brothers have done have either fallen under the radar or everyone has forgotten about for a good reason (i.e., Shallow Hal). So along comes Hall Pass, the first Farrelly brothers feature film in four years. The trailers and TV spots did seem to give the impression that the film would at least be fun and entertaining and the film turns out to be funnier than some may expect, but Hall Pass tends to come up a little short in its execution.
As you can probably guess, Hall Pass gets pretty over the top and raunchy at times. The Farrelly brothers have become notorious for that type of humor. So if getting high off of pot brownies and defecating on a golf course or trying to figure out what “fake chow” means doesn’t sound like a good time to you, then this probably isn’t the type of movie you want to see. You’ll probably be walking out around the time Rick wakes up in the jacuzzi at Leigh’s gym or once you realize what “Knight Rider” refers to. The film felt like it was trying too hard to get laughs the majority of the time. There would be this big elaborate scene where Rick and Fred would try to get laid and it would backfire, but it didn’t feel genuinely funny. I found myself laughing at the way certain lines were said in the film and facial expressions more than anything else. The finale of the film also feels really anticlimactic. Events in the film escalate in ridiculousness as the film progresses. The Hangover made something like that work, but you at least had a naked, Korean guy in the trunk waiting to hit you in the head with a crowbar and make the rest of the film fairly unpredictable. Hall Pass tries to cram action, drama, sex, a car chase, and a heartfelt speech into its conclusion. It was like the Farrelly brothers wanted to add a little substance to an otherwise, run of the mill R-rated comedy, but decided to throw in everything they could think of instead of sticking it out and making that one comedy as strong as it could possibly be.
The cast is pretty decent. The chemistry between Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis is what’s front and center the entire film. Watching their confidence slowly crumble as they realize picking up women isn’t as easy as they remember is one of the key elements to the humor in the film. Christina Applegate is just as funny and is used just as much in Hall Pass that she was in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy while The Office‘s Jenna Fischer doesn’t seem to stray too far away from her Pam Beesly character. Steven Merchant’s Gary is used sparingly in the film, but he has some pretty hilarious scenes that steal the show more often than not. His extra scene during the credits of the film is easily one of the highlights. It has all of the outrageous antics that just transpired in the film and then some condensed into about two minutes. The sad part is Gary’s fantasy may have made a better movie. Richard Jenkins is probably the highlight of the cast though. He was such a straight shooter, businessman type in Step Brothers and assisted a vampire to feed in Let Me In. To see him go from characters like that to Coakley, a sex-hound who can get any woman he wants is kind of incredible.
Hall Pass is more than a little disappointing overall. Its vulgar and outrageous humor will win over most that go to see it and, to be fair, it is funnier than expected. However, the film seems to try too hard to get laughs and insists on pushing the envelope far beyond its limits. Meanwhile, the rather action packed finale feels out of place and the last thing Rick says to Maggie makes the entire “hall pass” concept a waste of time. All in all, Hall Pass isn’t completely terrible but it comes up short in actually being worthwhile.