MOVIE OF THE WEEK #1 (2/25/11): HALL PASS
Credit: Peter Lovino. / © Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema.
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, JB Smoove, Larry Joe Campbell, Stephan Merchant, Bruce Thomas, Alexandra Daddario, Nicky Wehlan, Richard Jenkins, Kristin Carey and Joy Behar
WRITER: Pete Jones, Kevin Barnett, Peter & Bobby Farrelly
DIRECTOR: Peter & Bobby Farrelly
WEB SITE: http://hallpassmovie.warnerbros.com
THE PLOT: The latest film from the brother combo behind films such as Kingpin, Me, Myself & Irene and There's Something About Mary, Hall Pass stars Owen Wilson as Rick. A realtor, father of three and loving husband to Maggie (Jenna Fischer), he's got a great life ... A great, sexless life. Meanwhile, his buddy Fred (Jason Sudeikis) and his wife Grace (Christina Applegate) are having their own troubles, which mainly consist of Fred spending late nights in his car (see the movie; that will make sense then) and Grace doing her best to fake her way through it.
Realizing their respective marriages aren't quite working like they once were, Fred and Rick get the ultimate gift from their wives: A "hall pass" - a.k.a. 1 week off from marriage where they can do whatever they want, including cheat if they so desire.
While the news comes with celebration from their friends (played by JB Smoove, Larry Joe Campbell, Stephan Merchant and Richard Jenkins), Rick and Fred quickly learn - as one young Peter Parker once found out - with great power, comes great responsibility ... And a bunch of potentially hazardous/hilarious situations.
THE TAKE: Hall Pass is a lot like another Owen Wilson comedy that came out a few years ago, that film being the (in)famous Wedding Crashers. I say that not because the two films have similar plots (they don't really), but because both films follow the same track - both start strong as a "guy's guy" comedy with plenty of outrageous humor by men behaving badly ... Before then taking a sneaky turn into becoming more of a traditional romantic comedy.
Well, here's the low down on Hall Pass: It's just like Wedding Crashers, save for a more outrageous ending complete with at least two-three scenes that will either make you:  Completely disgusted;  Laugh Out Loud (no LOLs here!) and/or  If you're like the couple sitting next to me, reach over to cover your loved ones eyes (and yes, that really happened ... I dare you try and guess what scene made the guy do that to his girl!).
The acting is more than passable due to one simply detail the film's co-writers/directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly made sure to do in their screenplay and in turn bring out of their actors: A sense of realism that fits the characters so that the outrageous moments actually function within the scenario of the film. Truth be told, though, the movie could actually use a few more outrageous (or at the very least, comedic) moments as it does drag throughout the film's second half once the hall passes are actually granted.
Now, while it may sound weird to say that a movie with bodily fluid jokes and plenty of full front nudity is a good date movie, I will offer you this: In much the sense that Blue Valentine offers an unflinching look at a couple falling in love and its ultimate deterioration, Hall Pass - if you can look past the occasional bathroom humor - offers a look at how some of us realize why we appreciate the people we love. As the old song goes, you gotta love the one you're with ... And, despite some rather ribald means to get there, this film is much more sweet than it is nasty (save for the two/three scenes)!
PARTING SHOT:A romantic comedy for those who like their romantic comedies with full front nudity and scatalogical jokes thrown in for good measures, Hall Pass passes the grade - barely - for an entertaining cinematic experience.
RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):