Review: HALL PASS

What would you do? At the core of “Hall Pass,” the new irreverent comedy from the Farrelly Brothers, is a nagging question: If given the freedom to cheat on your spouse, would you?

In “Hall Pass” two married men, Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis), are given a hall pass–a week off marriage by their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate). And when the wives take off with the kids for a week at the beach, Rick and Fred check into a hotel. After all, if they’re going to follow through with a one-night stand or two, they can’t bring the women back to their family homes where pictures of their children adorn the walls. Thus, a week of bar-hopping ensues.

“Hall Pass” has a lot of fun, not all of it clean, with the “will they cheat” question. Packaged around R-rated gags, some of them of the gross-out scatological variety, is a heart-felt commentary on monogamy. And the movie turns into a pretty good cautionary tale.

One of the film’s delights is watching Oscar-nominated actor Richard Jenkins as an aging playboy. Quotable moments abound as Jenkins imparts on the younger men sage wisdom that only a man of his years and experience could amass. The movie could have used more of Jenkins’ character, especially as the action-packed conclusion ramps up.

“Hall Pass” is directed by the Farrelly Brothers who really hit it big with movies like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Kingpin” back in the 1990s. But their last film “The Heartbreak Kid” failed to woo audiences and make a major dent in the box office. While “Hall Pass” isn’t another “Mary” or even “Kingpin,” it does contain some memorable moments that will leave viewers in stitches. Part of the charm of the movie is its cast, and comedian Stephen Merchant nearly steals the show with an extended dream sequence that runs during the closing credits.

Local readers will want to look close at the extras in the background—the movie was shot in and around Atlanta. My wife, Maggie, is actually in this movie playing Owen Wilson’s receptionist in one scene. It’s nice that the movie is worth watching because there are many local faces in the crowd and background shots.

The whole idea introduced in “Hall Pass” is based on the forbidden fruit theory. If you forbid something, people will obsess about doing that forbidden thing. But if that off-limits activity is permitted, the obsession will subside. It’s a controversial bit of psychology that gives the movie its premise. But after watching “Hall Pass,” you might just want to love the one you’re with.

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