Gross Gags

'Hall Pass' is a typical Farrelly brothers film: It's fairly funny and rather disgusting

Hall Pass continues a string of relatively funny—if not altogether sidesplitting—films from the Farrelly brothers. Seventeen years removed from their debut (Dumb and Dumber), Peter and Bobby continue to get cheap laughs out of gross sight gags.

You will groan, and you will fidget at times, but if you are among those who laughed heartily at Kingpin and There's Something About Mary, Hall Pass should induce some spirited guffaws.

This is perhaps their best "raunchy" movie since Mary, a slightly better effort than the passable Me, Myself and Irene and The Heartbreak Kid. The pleasant and enjoyable Fever Pitch is disqualified, because it was about baseball and didn't have any dick jokes. Shallow Hal and Stuck on You sucked, so they are simply banished from thought beyond this sentence.

When middle-age real estate agent Rick (Owen Wilson) gets busted one too many times for misdeeds involving apparent sexual dissatisfaction, wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) gets fed up and grants him a "hall pass." For one week, he can do whatever he wants sexually with other women, no questions asked.

Rick's best friend, Fred (Jason Sudeikis), is granted the same gift by his wife, Grace (Christina Applegate), due to a far more salacious infraction involving his automobile, and the two head out for seven days of debauchery. With other friends observing, the party starts at Applebee's and goes downhill from there.

Attempts to get laid involve going to coffeehouses, playing golf while stoned on pot brownies, hanging around in hotel rooms eating Ben and Jerry's, and, of course, bar-hopping. The boys find out that even though they have been granted their sexual freedom, there are no guarantees they will capitalize on that freedom. In fact, they will more than likely strike out.

Meanwhile, Maggie and Grace go away for the week and hang around with a baseball team. Members of said team find them attractive (no surprise, considering that they look like Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate), resulting in some dalliances that weren't part of the whole "hall pass" deal. So while the boys are off blowing their chance, the girls get all sorts of opportunities without trying at all. What a crazy, kooky twist!

Of course, the Farrellys are just setting the stage for sick sight gags—some of which are mighty funny, while no person in their right mind would want to ever see some of the others. The best involves a woman having some difficulty in Fred's bathroom; the worst involves a shocking moment between Rick and two incredibly different cocks. I will provide no further description.

As for the rest of Rick and Fred's crew, Stephen Merchant scores some laughs as the one who supplies the pot brownies. (Stay around for the credits, because they feature Merchant in the funniest sequence in the film.) Larry Joe Campbell shows up as Hog-Head, someone who constantly needs to take a dump, which he does at very inopportune times. Richard Jenkins shows up late as Coakley, offering sleazy sage advice on how to pick up girls.

Nicky Whelan plays one of those girls, an Australian barista who eventually winds up disrobing for Rick during a rather uncomfortable—not to mention unbelievable—sequence. Derek Waters gets some laughs as her protective co-worker, before things go a little too far with his crazy character.

What works is largely due to the pairing of Wilson and Sudeikis, who play off each other nicely. Wilson is in his usual deadpan mode, while Sudeikis—easily one of the funnier people on the current incarnation of Saturday Night Live—provides the more energetic sparks. His oft-repeated gag involving "fake chow" is a lot funnier than it ever should be thanks to his spirited delivery.

Hall Pass is a nice return to comic form for Wilson after a funk that included How Do You Know, Little Fockers, the Night at the Museum sequel and Drillbit Taylor. (He rocked in Marley and Me, but that was due to his ability to make me cry during the dying-dog speech.) As Rick, he's required to jettison the droll cool that has permeated his past comic characters. He's also required to comb his normally wispy locks back and tuck in his shirt for a more nerdy appearance.

The Farrellys are still trying to get their Three Stooges movie off the ground. At one time, the film was to star Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey as the Stooges, but that cast has fallen apart. Hall Pass didn't exactly light the box office on fire during its first weekend, so expect further delays on the Stooges idea.

Undoubtedly, the Farrellys are held to a high standard when it comes to gross-out sight gags. They set the high-water mark with their utilization of jizz on Ben Stiller's ear and in Cameron Diaz's hair in Mary. Hall Pass makes many admirable attempts to achieve such moments of glory, but they fall somewhat short, though there are enough successful gags to make the whole thing worth a fan's time.

Yeah, this is not glowing praise by any means. But sometimes, just sometimes, I need a movie to show me a glamorous girl spraying diarrhea all over some dude's bathroom wall—just to keep things real.

Hall Pass is not showing in any theaters in the area.

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