Pin It

Give 'em Detention 

The Farrelly brothers have grown stale.

click to enlarge Apparently, they were set free to make an awful movie.
  • Apparently, they were set free to make an awful movie.

Whatever happened to the Farrelly brothers? Back when they were making outrageous but sweet and clever movies (think Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin), you were guaranteed two-dozen belly laughs. Hall Pass features maybe six laugh-aloud moments, along with a whole lot of formulaic filler.

Of course, that’s Farrelly formula, which translates, I would imagine, to notes written in at strategic points in the script. So we’re cruising along in the story of two reasonably happily married couples who get caught up in the (wives’) idea that the husbands should get a sevenday-long “hall pass” — in other words, a week of total freedom from any marital commitment. OK, boys, go out and do whatever you want, with whomever you want. Sow some of those wild oats, if you’ve still got ‘em, then come on back home and our marriages will be stronger than ever. You won’t ever have to look at another woman again. (Right.)

Those Farrelly notes? They go something like this:

“Hey, here’s a good spot for another explosive diarrhea joke.” Or “How about some full-frontal male nudity? But wait — let’s make sure the black guy is three times bigger than the white guy. Har har har!!!

There’s nothing wrong with a little crude humor, in small doses. But the Farrellys don’t do small doses. Their “shocking” raunchiness has become repetitive.

Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are the happy but hapless husbands who are accused by their wives (Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate) of gawking at beautiful babes, even when the couples are out walking side by side, which sets the “pass” idea into motion.

Fairly harmless behavior for such a drastic decision, don’t you think?

Things, of course, don’t go as planned. The film’s big long-running gag is that neither guy has a clue about what to do with his newfound freedom. Is heading to a local Applebee’s to “reel in the babes” truly the right way to start? Even their poker-night pals can’t help.

Neither can all the stilted dialogue, or all the actors looking like they’re trying to act. Nothing, in fact, can help this movie.

Yes, there are some bright spots. There’s a goofy sequence involving marijuana brownies. (Imagined conversation: “Whoa! Almost forgot the drug scene!”) And the soundtrack employs pop songs well, though some stale Styx-bashing accompanies an embarrassing-to-watch masturbation sequence.

About an hour in — when most viewers will have succumbed to the fact that the Farrellys are just mining old material — the movie gets a boost with the introduction of Coakley, a so-called legendary womanizer and manabout-town: Just the fellow to guide our heroes to some big-time sex action. As played by Richard Jenkins — the film’s lone strong actor — Coakley is the coolest character around. Alas, he’s given far too little screen time.

The desperate final reel features an overabundance of wild and crazy guys, along with the standard dose of Farrelly sappiness. At least there’s one solid laugh all the way at the end of the credits. I suppose it’s a good idea leave the funniest bit for last.


  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Alienation Building
  • Alienation Building

    A Cure for Wellness brings operatic craziness sure to irritate audiences
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • The Dork Knight
  • The Dork Knight

    A child's sense of goofy play reigns in The LEGO Batman Movie
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • The <i>Evil</i> Inside
  • The Evil Inside

    The "final chapter" in a dying franchise that just won't die
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »


Comments are closed.

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
International Guitar Night

International Guitar Night @ Bing Crosby Theater

Thu., Feb. 23, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks


More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Eyes on the Prize

    Filmmaker Justin Whiteman's documentary offers a nuanced portrait of Spokane boxing guru Rick Welliver
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • Check it Out

    A dozen films from this year's festival that caught our eye
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Spy vs. Spy
  • Spy vs. Spy

    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. carves out a unique space in a crowded espionage marketplace
    • Aug 12, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation