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<i>Hall Pass</i>: Another Heartwarmingly Filthy Farrelly Brothers Film

The Farrelly Brothers like to spice up their comedies with risque scenarios and shocking imagery, but I wish they'd spice up their comedies with some comedy. Because while there are a few great laughs in Hall Pass, a lot of time is spent on making the characters sympathetic and redeemable, and while that's normally a good thing, it's not the case when it means half of your funny movie isn't particularly funny. While I love a happy ending as much as the next guy, this movie had the potential to depict a total disaster, and a safe wrap-up leaves me wondering why I bothered watching it in the first place.

As the commercials indicate, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play buddies who are constantly thinking about sex. They stare at women all day and then talk about them in graphic detail, and if they can't negotiate sex with their wives later (which they usually can't), they either masturbate in the car or debate a fling with the babysitter. It's an incredibly negative depiction of marriage, and the wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) are depicted as fully complicit in the withholding of sex, even as they shake their heads at their men's behavior, which raises a chicken-and-the-egg question that isn't really addressed. When their mutual friend (Joy fricking Behar) suggests they give the guys a week to get it out of their system, they reluctantly put the offer on the table. Wilson is also reluctant -- he feels like it's not fair to his wife -- but Sudeikis badgers his wife to give it to him once he finds out Wilson is a free man. They're also cheered on by a Greek chorus of their buddies, none of whom have hall passes from their significant others, but want to see their friends in action. Unfortunately, even a heavy meal will put them out of action nowadays, and before you know it half the week is gone, and their chorus dissipates, along with the movie's momentum.

As his character apparently lacks a verbal filter, as well as a filter for bad ideas, the maniacal Sudeikis steals every scene from the sleepy Wilson, who seems half-heartedly committed to the hall pass, as well as the film. Fischer and Applegate live out their own, largely chaste hall passes on the Cape, and it sometimes feels like watching a bad Lifetime movie, as they have fun with a college ballplayer and his coach. Wilson and Fischer have three kids, who conspire to ruin their sex life, but the minute Fischer hits the Cape her parents take them for what seems like the entire week, which raises the question of why the Rhode Island-based couple didn't drop them off more often. J.B. Smoove gets to be a bit much at times as one of the Greek chorus, but Stephen Merchant may actually be underused, as his few jokes are great one-liners that make you laugh twice. (Stick around past the credits for a fantasy sequence starring him.) Richard Jenkins also appears in the film, in a hilarious role that kicks in halfway through, leading to one amazing last night of freedom that of course pulls back from being too much of a game-changer. As much as they love to shock, the Farrellys love a happy ending much more.

Did you see Hall Pass? Let us know what you thought below, then check out our hall passes for the cast's worst films. And read more movie review here!

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