Directed by: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Premise: A pair of married men (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) are given a week off of their marital obligations by their wives, including the opportunity to have an affair.
What Works: Hall Pass’ best material comes from its supporting characters. Playing the wives, Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate are confronted with some unexpected temptations and the subplots of these women are far more compelling than the main storyline of their spouses. Richard Jenkins makes an appearance in what is more a cameo than a supporting role and Jenkins punches up the scenes he is in with energy and wit.
What Doesn’t: Despite a provocative premise, Hall Pass does not offer any new or compelling insights into marriage, sexuality, or aging. This lack of perspective ends up handicapping the entire film, limiting its appeal and its comedic potential. If the film had something to say about its themes, then it might be able to mine those topics for laughs. But because it does not bring anything new to the topic, the film ends up being an updated version of films like Porky’s staring late middle aged men. And even as that, Hall Pass does not do very well. The film relies on a lot of scenarios about getting old and facing middle age that were done far better in films like The Hangover, Old School, and Clerks II. Unlike those films, Hall Pass is not consistently funny and the film’s humor misses more often than it hits. While the hits are considerable, they do not come often enough. The uneven humor is partly attributable to male leads Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis who not much fun to watch. Wilson is particularly lifeless in the film and walks aimlessly through his role without convincingly conveying desire or repentance.
Bottom Line: Hall Pass is a letdown, especially since to comes from the filmmakers behind Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. Hall Pass is not very funny and the film is well behind the curve in the recent trend of sex comedies.
Episode: #329 (March 6, 2011)