VOD film review: Hall Pass
Ivan Radford | On 09, Nov 2014
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis
Watch Hall Pass online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
It’s been a long time since There’s Something About Mary and the Farrelly Brothers haven’t aged well. In fact, they may not have not aged at all. Hall Pass is a mediocre mess of crude, gross-out rubbishness. Worst of all for a comedy, there’s not a single laugh in it – unless you count one during the end credits.
It starts off alright, with Rick (Wilson) and Fred (Sudeikis) getting itchy pants after years of marriage to their wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate). But then up pops the central premise of the movie. What’s a hall pass? Why, it’s a week off from all marital responsibility, of course! It’s not some made-up misogynistic MacGuffin. A woman even turns up and says the words “Hall Pass” over and over for five minutes, just to make sure. She’s a doctor, too, so it’s clearly a morally sound plot point.
And so the couples split for a week, the men planning a “tits and booze” fest. It’s all predictable and lecherous, as Rick and Fred stand around plotting how to get into drunk women’s bedrooms, but then the movie does a weird about-turn: while the men learn that they’re middle-aged and unattractive and decide that they love their wives, the women go off and start having affairs too.
Are we meant to cheer on their sexual freedom? Perhaps we should boo their infidelity as some kind of justification for the men’s desire to sleep with other women in the first place? We certainly don’t care about them saving their marriages – and neither do the Farrelly Brothers, who plaster over any inconsistency in the narrative with lots of poo and fart jokes. There’s that bit where someone farts, that other bit when someone poos, and that classic bit where someone sneezes and poos at the same time, spraying faeces all over the bathroom wall. It’s ground-breaking stuff.
Credit should go to Sudeikis and Wilson for having charisma as the leads, but the pair can’t do anything with such a dated script, and it would be remiss to suggest that Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer have been given anything remotely approaching a character to think about. As for Richard Jenkins floating about nightclubs as an elderly playboy, it’s hard to know what he was thinking. The same goes for Stephen Merchant, whose 1 per cent of screentime is sorely missing during the other 99 per cent.
Trying to emulate The Hangover, the Farrelly Brothers forget that what makes shallow comedies work are actual jokes. The result is 107 minutes of unfunny and coarse filmmaking.
Hall Pass is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.