Once the kings of comedy, the Farrelly brothers have seen their
crown slip in recent years with some poor efforts and the emergence of
Judd Apatow and co in a comedy mutiny. After The Heartbreak Kid’s rather
tired formula the pair return with Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as
married guys given a week’s freedom from their ties to do with as they
please. Semi-autobiographical then?
Getting the early reference to Sideways out of the way helps –
this is no stag week gone horribly wrong. Instead, we are thrown into a
tale of two normal domesticated guys feeling hard done by nothing more
than life’s usual frustrations who crave, and are then are miraculously
given seven days of no-strings attached fun by their equally frustrated
wives. The results of which no easy ride to say the least.
Fusing the more serious moments of both Shallow Hal and Stuck on You with Something About Mary‘s
gross-out credentials, the pair here manage to find a rather happy
medium which will appeal to a more mainstream audience than previous
hits might have suggested. There’s certainly plenty of the latter as the
pair, aided by buddies and a rather out-of-place but eventually
scene-stealing Stephen Merchant, come to realise perhaps their
once powerful mojo might not have the desired effect fifteen years on
from their reckless youth. Not since Psycho, has a bathtub required so much cleaning.
Sparking some good chemistry, both Wilson and Sudeikis do
well with what could have been formulaic roles, turning potentially
unsympathetic characters into a surprisingly well-rounded and likeable
pair. The girls however come off worse as both Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate come
down from one-note high-horse lecturing and inevitably end up getting
more out of the deal than their rather tame other halves.
With the usual amount of nudity you’d expect from a more adult comedy
– pleasing both sexes as it turns out – and some good lines early on,
Hall Pass, at times, suffers the same trajectory as the rather stale
marriages the characters are hoping to reinvigorate. After a bright
opening, the second half delves into more weighty matters and suffers
slightly as the consequences of what each might lose eventually dawns on
both couples. Thankfully, things pick up for a frantic finale before an
ending cuts in which might take you slightly by surprise. Be warned
through, this is not a film to walk out on during the closing credits.
Saving the best material for last, at the film’s conclusion watch
out for Merchant in the brothers’ scatter gun dream sequence, that that
might just keep you chuckling for another seven days.