Review in a Hurry: Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are seemingly happy, married suburban BFFs. When their wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) get tired of their foolish man-boy antics, they grant their men a one-week, no-strings-attached, hall pass from marriage. Because this is somehow supposed to strengthen their relationship. Sound stupid? It is.
The Bigger Picture: After a four-year absence, the Farrelly brothers are back with a pile of crap so big, it should be a punch line in a future Farrelly brothers movie. The bros, it seems, have risen from a coma in which they've lost all ability to form a story with proper pacing, non-awkward acting, digestible plot lines, relatable characters, and non-gratuitous poop jokes. Be warned, Hall Pass is no There's Something About Mary. Heck, or even Stuck on You. Or Dumb and Dumber...
Married to attractive women and living in nice houses in Providence, Rhode Island seems like a total bummer—and apparently, that's why Rick and Fred occasionally check out other women. This is a big issue for shrill wives, Maggie and Grace, and rather than just roll with it and maybe partake in some male gazing themselves, they free their husbands from the confines of The American Dream and take off for Cape Cod for a week.
With their wives out of the picture, Wilson and Sudeikis, gather up their vicariously curious, bumbling married bromates and head out to Applebee's, where they think the hot single chicks will be waiting for them with open arms. Giving credit where it's due, Wilson and Sudeikis play well off each other with Sudeikis holding his own in his first lead role.
Days of living single go by, filled with crude adventures happening around every corner. One fortuitous scene involving pot brownies takes place on a golf course (cue bumbling bromate pooping in a sand pit).
In another, Wilson falls asleep in a hot tub only to be rescued by a guy with an enormous wang (pretty sure this is where the R-rating stakes its claim), and yet the dorky protagonists fail to get laid.
Meanwhile, the wives, Fischer and Applegate, are spring breaking it up down at the Cape. This nod to the fact that women have needs too comes at the expensive of lines like, "We've fulfilled our wives' dreams." Those dreams being a jobless existence in the suburbs?
The guys eventually figure out that being single isn't as great as they remembered and reunite with their wives for a saccharine filled predictability fest with a few unresolved gaping plot holes. SPOILER ALERT! Oops, actually one of the four actually gets laid.
This is a Farrelly brothers movie after all, and therefore plot devices and character motivation shouldn't matter as much as hilarious and raunchy gags, and in this case they definitely don't. But unfortunately, the gags don't make up for the movie's lack of substantial sensibilities, like a believable story that kind of makes sense. Hall Pass is in a way, Farrelly-light. Even their signature defecation jokes are crappy (hee) and so inorganically placed throughout the movie that they seem a last minute Hail Mary suggested by a focus group composed of 14 year old boys. The brothers have all but taken the humor out of gross-out-humor, and what's left is just...gross.
The 180—a Second Opinion: You can't polish a turd, but Owen Wilson certainly gets close. His aw-shucks demeanor and likeability go a long way.
(Originally published Feb. 24, 2011, at 6 p.m. PT)