Blu-ray Review: Hall Pass (Enlarged Edition)



In 1998, The Farrelly Brothers upped the ante for R-rated comedies with There’s Something About Mary. Their output since then has been lacking to say the least, as they haven’t been able to have another film with that sort of spark. The rise and prominence of the Apatow crew, plus the overall bar being raised for R-rated comedies, has seemingly left them as dinosaurs in a world rapidly evolving in both character and story.

Will The Farrelly Bros. be able to survive in an Apatow world? Sadly, I think not.

Hall Pass attempts to hit similar notes as the more popular and funny Apatow films of late but seems to fall short just about every time. The biggest flaw of the film is that it asks the audience for the ultimate in suspension of disbelief. We are asked to believe that two men would be willing to cheat on Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer – this concept seems absolutely absurd to me.

Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) share two things in common with their friendship: both are married horn dogs who are always checking out other women. Their wives, Maggie (Fischer) and Grace (Applegate), get frustrated feeling unappreciated and learn from a mutual friend about something called a “hall pass” wherein they allow their husbands to not be husbands for one week. The idea is that they’ll realize that they really can’t get all those hot chicks they drool over daily.

So the wives take the kids up to Cape Cod and leave the husbands to their own devices. What follows is a series of scenes that attempt to be funny, but (nine times out of ten) don’t quite reach the intended laughs. Gags like the men going to Applebee’s to hit on women just seem idiotic. Are these two morons so clueless that they think this is a good place to pick up “hot babes?” There is also a running gag about men and women faking oral sex, which, not only lacked any semblance of reality but, again, was not funny.

Of course, the men end up not being the only one’s flirting with infidelity. Maggie and Grace catch a local bush league baseball game where in they end up getting hit on the coach and a player. And, well, you can pretty much guess how the rest of the film unfolds from there.

Luckily the film isn’t all bad. One of Rick and Fred’s friends is Gary (Stephen Merchant), a quirky Brit who seems very clueless about … well … just about everything. He’s funnier than most in the film and his finest scenes comes while the credits are rolling

This film is presented in 2.4:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with English, French and Spanish subtitles. The film looks and sounds fine, there is really nothing bad to say about it here.

The special features on here are very limited. Included are a deleted scene (4 min.) that isn’t that funny and a gag reel (2 min.) that isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but not that great either. You also get a DVD and adigital copy.

Hall Pass isn’t the worst comedy I’ve ever seen, but it’s not that great either. They’re a few good laughs but not nearly enough and the film takes way too long to set up its paper-thin premise. The acting across the board is pretty solid and the actors do the best they can with the very little that they’re given to work with.

New Line Cinema presents Hall Pass. Directed by: Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate and Stephen Merchant. Written by Pete Jones, Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett and Bobby Farrelly. Running time: 105 min. (theatrical cut) 111 min. (extended cut) Rating: R for crude and sexual humor throughout, language, some graphic nudity and drug use. Released on Blu-ray: June 14, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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