As far as I’m concerned, Bobby and Peter Farrelly are the undisputed and reigning kings of directing and producing insultingly stupid and virtually worthless movies. It all started back in 1994 with the aptly titled “Dumb & Dumber” and has continued throughout the years with such intellectually challenging films as “Shallow Hal,” “Stuck on You,” and “Me, Myself & Irene.”
Now the Farrelly brothers have struck again with “Hall Pass,” one of their typically rarely funny movies punctuated with tastelessly coarse humor and nauseatingly gross sight gags. The fact that “Hall Pass” has earned millions at the box office obviously proves that a lot of people must enjoy the Farrellys’ scatological brand of humor, but I’m not one of them.
In “Hall Pass,” Owen Wilson and Jason Sudekis play a couple of pals named Rick and Fred respectively. Both of them are married to very attractive wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), but unfortunately that doesn’t stop them from constantly checking out other women.
At one point Maggie tells Rick, “Being in a car with you is like riding around with a horny bobble head.”
Of course Rick and Fred don’t see the harm in looking at attractive women, but finally Maggie gets so tired of it that she tells Rick he can have a hall pass. This means that he gets a seven-day vacation from being married with no consequences. He can do anything he wants with as many willing women he can find for an entire week.
Naturally when Rick tells Fred about his good fortune, Fred works Grace to the point where she finally gives him a hall pass too. Now both guys have the chance to pursue any and all gorgeous women on the planet. At first they are overjoyed with their good fortune, but as the week progresses, they begin to learn something about themselves that they had never before realized.
You won’t find anything new or original in “Hall Pass,” and much of the so-called humor is predicated on what some people may find repulsive. Actually the film contains one scene with so much full frontal nudity of two males that I am stunned the censors let it by with just an R rating instead of slapping an NC-17 on it.
Of course the main premise behind this movie is the hackneyed one of men becoming restless in a marriage and wanting to have a fling with no consequences attached. In the film’s production notes, Wilson offered his analysis of the film.
“Most guys can’t help noticing a good-looking woman walk by, but some of them do a better job at being subtle about it. With others, like Rick, it’s like they have their heads on a swivel. One of the ideas behind ‘Hall Pass’ is that men — and women, too — are just hard-wired to look. And occasionally, they may also wonder. What if I wasn’t married? What could I be doing now? And with whom? Being a Farrelly brothers’ comedy, such probing philosophic questions are bound to lead down some dangerously slippery slopes.”
Sorry, Owen. While I may agree with him that men are prone to look at pretty women who walk by, I have never yet encountered a Farrelly brothers’ film that contained any remote remnant of “probing philosophic questions.” Now that might be worth the price of admission by itself.
Also in the production notes, Bobby Farrelly explained his and his brother’s approach to the movie.
“A lot of people joke about the seven-year itch and this is sort of an updated version of that. When you’re dealing with the sacred institution of marriage, you’re playing with fire, so we knew we had to handle it just right. But we weren’t afraid of tackling the subject and we certainly weren’t going to hold back on any of the jokes or the temptations…or anything else. If we think it’s funny, Pete and I will go for it. We love pushing the envelope.”
And push the envelope they do with scenes involving flatulence, masturbation, diarrhea, and myriad tasteless references to various functions of the human body.
Now here’s a test to see whom this film will appeal to. Those who find outrageous humor in the following pickup line Rick uses should probably rush out for a front-row seat.
As he looks his quarry in the eye, Rick solemnly says, “You must be from Ireland because when I look at you, my penis is Dublin.”
Overall I found “Hall Pass” (It gets a final score of two only because it does hold out a bit of hope for the institution of marriage.) basically devoid of humor, filled with mediocre (at best) acting, and often tastelessness that transcends disgusting. Anyone who spends the money for a matinee of this movie is dumb, but those who pay the full price of admission definitely are dumber!