Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Written by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Pete Jones, and Kevin Barnett, 105 minutes, Rated R.
By our guest blogger, Matt Schimkowitz
From 1994 to 1997, Peter and Bobby Farrelly were the reigning kings of comedic raunch. From "Dumb and Dumber" to the game-changing "There's Something About Mary," these two showed the world that nothing was too humiliating or distasteful for the sake of laughter. Furthermore, they sealed each comedy with kiss, adding a strong love story presented by even stronger comedic ensembles.
Then, around the turn of the decade, their act started to slip.
Films like "Stuck on You" and "Fever Pitch" showed a softer, kinder Farrelly brothers, and the results weren't good. Years of bad scripts and an inability to keep up in the post-South Park world showed the Farrellys losing their edge.
"Hall Pass" elevates them a bit higher, with a script and cast that's better than anything they've worked with in a decade. Trouble is, these elements still never seem to click and they cause the film to stop dead in its tracks. The Farrellys have a strong story to tell, but the humor and sentiment now feel even more behind in the post-"Hangover" 2010s.
Rick and Fred (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) are obsessed with sex. No women is invulnerable to their wonton stares, and when their obvious drooling gets them into trouble, their wives suggest giving them a "hall pass," a week-long break from marriage to get their desires out of their systems.
Their wives know their game isn't what it used to be, and as they strive for footing in the dating world, Rick and Fred find their 40-year-old bodies struggling to keep up. Rick and Fred succumb to eating fatty foods and striking out at the bar, while their wives use the week to their own advantage.
Their off-the-wall week is generally spent fantasizing and eating rather than doing. We rarely see the heat get turned up until the last act--and even then, it feels a little forced. The Farrellys are off their game here. They hope to excite today's audience by making up new pet names for sexual maneuvers, and while that's occasionally amusing, it doesn't really stick--most of the film's jokes go in one ear and out the other. Wilson and Sudeikis seem equally confused--their clowning doesn't maintain the energy the film so desperately calls for.
For these veterans of crude comedy, "Hall Pass" is mediocre, which is to say, at least it's not "Shallow Hal."