Movies

10 Critical Thoughts About Hall Pass

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Highly specific observations on the Farrelly Brothers' semi-anticipated comeback.

Hall Pass, the latest movie from Bobby and Peter Farrelly, centers around Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis), two middle-aged married men who constantly fantasize about extramartial sex. Convinced that their husbands could never pull it off, the wives (Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer) give them a week-long "hall pass" to do whatever their hearts and penises desire.

1. A return to form!
To crude, disgusting form. If you're worried that the Farrelly brothers have matured since '90s hits like Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary, rest assured: the boys still know how to make you squirm.

2. The Farrelly Brothers seem obsolete in these Apatovian times.
Paul Rudd's character arc in Knocked Up better illustrated male marital claustrophobia than an entire Netflix queue of Farrelly Brothers movies could. Is it fair to punish the gross-out bros for not being something they don't want to be? Probably not, but it's hard not to compare nonetheless.

3. There's this Applebee's thing that's pretty funny, actually.
Fred and Rick are so mired in suburban mediocrity that, when looking for ladies to hook up with, they hit up their local Applebee's. "What are you thinking," Rick says, realizing their mistake. "Olive Garden?" It's a throwaway joke, but wouldn't that be a funny conceit for a movie? If Rick and Fred tried to get laid solely at family-style restaurants like Chili's and T.G.I. Friday's? I dunno, I'd watch.

4. Aww, look at Sudeikis go.
One of the more consistently funny SNL cast members, Sudeikis is kind of like the nice guy on the basketball team who doesn't join the other jocks in giving you a swirlie. Pretty much everyone likes him, and he'll probably enjoy a fulfilling career in broad, averagely funny comedies like this one because of it.

5. And Owen Wilson, too!
Sorry, but I'm an Owen Wilson loyalist. Every time this guy pops up on a screen, I kind of get a little giddy inside because I know he'll say at least one line that I'll immediately, annoyingly repeat aloud. Unfortunately for those sitting near me, there were a few of those in Hall Pass.

6. Dunt dunt!
Some of the movie's funniest moments come from its use of that distinctive Law & Order sound effect, which the Farrelly brothers reportedly paid $200,000 to use. Money well spent, I say.

7. Christina Applegate just isn't funny.
I don't know how she keeps wedging herself into otherwise tolerable projects (Anchorman, Samantha Who?, etc), but it needs to stop. I know she's trying so hard to be funny, but there's this vacant look in her eyes that makes me think she really might be Kelly Bundy.

8. Jenna Fischer is kind of a nonentity here.
Actually, all the women are, but since I already think that Applegate is a nonentity in general, it was mainly disappointing to see the talented Fischer treated similarly. She gets in a few good moments here and there, but Hall Pass is a cinematic Boys' Night Out, leaving the ladies to be little more than talking vaginas.

9. Stephen Merchant, for the win.
Ricky Gervais' comedic mate is a real scene-stealer here. Sure, he plays a stereotypical Hollywood version of a British person, but it's done well enough to make me wish the character had his own sitcom (or, say, a recurring role on NBC's The Office).

10. Just watch the trailer.
As with most comedies of this caliber, you can save a lot of money and time by staying home and watching the trailer, which has most of the good jokes anyway. If you insist on the movie-theater experience, consider paying somebody twenty dollars to kick the back of your chair.