Sunday 3 July 2011

Today's Review: Hall Pass

When I first saw the poster for this movie I assume it was about a couple of old guys hanging around a school for some reason. So I'm glad they clarified what a "hall pass" meant. I guess I'm not as up to date with the lingo as I should be. Anyway, here we have Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis), who are two horny married guys who like to stare at young women and embarrass their wives. So their ball and chains decide to give them a week off from marriage, giving them a chance to get all the horniness out of their system, but in reality hoping that it will make them realise they aren't the studs they think they could be. 

So off they go to enjoy tons of lady parts, right? Well, no, this is one of those "let's put everyone in awkward situations" comedies, and you'll get plenty of that. In fact, our two heroes don't seem to go anywhere near a woman for the first half of the week, but inexplicably spend time getting high on a golf course, which is probably the worst place you could pick up women. There's also a scene where they eat a load of meat with their friends and then one of them says they need to poo real bad. 

So yes, this movie takes quite a while to get going. There are an awful lot of unnecessary scenes slotted in presumably for pure uncomfortable and gross out comedy, which would be okay in small doses, but these scenes often go on for longer than anything related to the main plot. Even entire characters are thrown in for no good reason. Rick and Fred have a few good buddies who they hang around with all the time, and who are there to provide moral support once the hall passes get issued. But then they all eat some meat, make some poo jokes and fool around on the aforementioned golf course, and they suddenly say they've had enough and go home. Then they don't come back for the rest of the movie. 

One of the friends is played by Stephen Merchant. I have no idea why they decided to throw Stephen Merchant into the middle of a movie full of American guys living American lives with their American lives, but it must have been important to the Farrelly Brothers because he's on the poster up there. Maybe they just couldn't get Ricky Gervais, who is also strangely out of place in an American movie, so they just went for his friend with the funny voice. Don't get me wrong, my feelings towards Stephen Merchant have warmed immensely since playing Portal 2, and there is a scene featuring him in the credits that made me laugh out loud, but in this movie he is completely out of place, more so than the other friends who disappear.

But once they have disappeared the movie can finally get underway. Unfortunately half the movie is over by that point. So another character is introduced who is really all about getting these guys laid. Hilarity and sex ensue, surely. Oh no, wait, another poop joke first. And another uncomfortable situation. Cool. The plot seems to stutter all the way through. Whenever the guys seem to be getting somewhere they instead go into a massive aside that is just there for cheap and vulgar laughs. There is so much more that could have been done with the main plot of the actual hall passes, but the Farrellys always seem to fall back  on Owen Wilson complaining about his old people problems or people doing disgusting things even though they seemed so nice to begin with.

Thankfully, the story does go somewhere, but it all seems a little unfinished. In fact, there's a major plot point that we never even see the reactions to, it's like they ran out of time to include it because they squeezed too many dick jokes into the rest of the movie. 

All that being said, the movie isn't awful. The relationship between the two male leads is nice, Wilson and Sudeikis seems to have good chemistry, and it can be quite entertaining watching them bouncing lines off each other. Their wives, played by Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer, do a good job too, and it's a shame there's not more of them throughout the movie, as their characters were worth exploring too.

Hall Pass isn't bad, it just seems to lose itself very easily on too many occasions. There's an interesting premise that is only really shallowly explored, and the characters are all sidetracked into unnecessary places for no particular reason. Still, if you're looking for cheap laughs and dick jokes, this is probably one for you.

My rating: 3/5

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