There is one genuinely funny bit in Hall Pass–a married supporting character fantasizes what his life would be like if his wife gave him a “hall pass” (a coansequence-free week off from marriage and his scenario is a quick homage to Double Indemnity/Blood Simple, replete with illicit passion, murder, witnesses and a backyard which soon becomes a graveyard. It’s fast, clever and hilarious. Alas, it comes about 95 minutes into the movie– long after the main conflicts have been resolved and immediately after a title card flashes “Directed by the Farrelly Bros.” The rest of Hall Pass reeks of both laziness and desperation.
Owen Wilson and Jason Sudekis manage to be unfunny and unsympathetic as two married best friends who wangle the titular “hall pass” from their lovely wives Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate (more about them later). This week feels more like a year (at least to this viewer) as they sink into Appleby’s-induced comas on the first night, drinking-induced comas on the second night…I found myself drifting into an unfunny comedy-induced coma by their third night. The comic bits are predictable when they’re not being intentionally revolting. Sudekis in particular comes off as grating, unlikable…you keep wishing the lovely Miss Applegate would catch on and give him the heave-ho. Surely there must be better men–or just plain men– in New England. In order to keep myself from feeling totally depressed, I began to ask myself some questions (besides why am I here). Why cast Vanessa Angel and Alyssa Milano in the same movie if you’re only going to use them to be the butt of one unfunny joke? Surely they could have been utilized as potential “date-bait” by the “Rover Boys.” Why do the Farrelly Bros. .go out of their way to provide not one redeeming quality to Mr. Sudekis? (I dare you to look for one) When will winning, and talented tandem of Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate be seen on the big screen in a vehicle that’s worthy of them? The one last funny bit aside, this Hall Pass is a desperate, dispiriting and depressing.