Comedy, 105 Minutes, 2011
Hall Pass is the latest in the long line of formula, raunchy, over-the-top comedies. Take some likable people, place them in a ridiculous situation toss in some toilet humor, work up to a crisis and end with a melodramatic sequence to prove that the movie has a heart.
In this case two sex-starved men (read: “men”) with plain wives (Hollywood-plain, so read: “smoking hot”) get a “Hall Pass”: a week off from marriage to do as they please. The wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) take the kids and go to the family summer home.
The husbands (Owen Wilson playing Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis playing Ed Helms) believe that this will mean non-stop sex with women half their age. This is, by far, the most unbelievable part of the movie (no regular guy ever underestimates the difficulty of convincing a woman to have sex).
The movie acknowledges this however and much of the humor comes from their inability to seal the deal. Like nearly all the other movies in the genre much of the humor also comes from the cast of oddball friends. Stephen Merchant and Larry Joe Campbell are highlights here.
Of course (and this isn’t a spoiler since you should realize that it’s going to happen from the premise) Owen Wilson’s character does end up convincing the astounding Nicky Whelan that he’s worth a romp… but then backs out at the last-minute because of true love or blah blah blah. (I love my wife dearly, desperately and completely, but I say here with all honesty: if Nicky Whelan wants me, she can have me).
The movie isn’t bad my any means but you’ll probably never watch it twice. There are several laugh-out-loud moments even if some of the gags do rely a little heavily on gross-out factor (like a completely hilarious case of explosive diarrhea). The cast is all likable (especially the long-suffering wives, two of my favorite actresses) and the movie doesn’t drag completely at the end like so many of its brethren.
There’s no malice in it (unlike, say, “Due Date” who’s humor was almost exclusively mean-spirited). It’s a silly and stupid movie, but mostly good-hearted and well-meaning.