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Movie Review: Hall Pass (2011) March 10, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Reviews.
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When I was still at school, my friend and I decided to go see a movie after class one day.  But for whatever reason, we missed the film we intended to see, and there was only one other film available, a film neither of us had even heard of.

That film was called There’s Something About Mary, and I don’t think either of us have laughed as hard in a cinema as we did that day.  It was one magical movie experience that I’ll always treasure — zero knowledge of the plot, zero expectations, and an unexpected classic of a film.  The name, the Farrelly brothers, was also ingrained into my brain.

Fast forward to present day, and as chance would have it, my friend and I had another opportunity to catch a film together.  Naturally, we decided to go see Hall Pass, a Farrelly brothers movie starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis (only recently watched him in 30 Rock), Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate and Stephen Merchant.

The premise is outstanding and full of potential.  Two friends in slightly rocky relationships with their wives are given a “hall pass” from marriage for a week.  Effectively, a licence to cheat.  What will they do?  What kind of mischief will they get up to?  Will it be hilarious?

Sadly, I have to report that Hall Pass didn’t pass the grade.  The Farrelly brothers’ magic from There’s Something About Mary is well and truly gone.  Their last two films, this one and The Heartbreak Kid (with Ben Stiller) are both duds in my opinion.  It just shows how hard it is to make a strong comedy film, and just because you’ve succeeded once doesn’t mean you know the secret formula.

The problem with Hall Pass is that it’s not particularly funny.  If you’ve seen the trailer you would have seen half the jokes, because most of them are the same, and the rest are relatively predictable. Not to say that it isn’t funny at all, because there were a few good moments (my favourite was in a massage parlour) that made me giggle aloud, but on the whole there were too many jokes and gags that were met with complete silence or worse, cringes.

Another problem I had with it is that, like so many ‘comedies’ these days, being loud and obnoxious, filthily disgusting, and having shock value are taken as a proxy for humour.  Where are the good old jokes that comes from cleverness and wit and irony?  And my goodness, masturbation and racial penis size gags really are getting old these days.

It’s unfortunate because Hall Pass had so much going for it as an idea, but the development and execution let it down.  There were shades of Mary in there in a couple of scenes, and you could almost sense that they were trying to recreate what had worked for them in the past, but for whatever reason, it failed.

At the end of the day, Hall Pass is what it is.  A great idea, a solid cast, a few good jokes, a lot of lame ones, and a dash of sweetness at its core.  Probably better than most of the trashy gross-out comedies that get pumped out these days but still not very good.

2 stars out of 5

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