Rated: R Reviewed by: Jim Release date: February 25, 2011 Released by: New Line Cinema
Peter and Bobby Farrelly (The Heartbreak Kid) are back for more gratuitous, mean-spirited fun in their new coarse, slap-sticky flick set on their Providence, R.I. home turf (actually filmed in Atlanta, Ga.).
Hall Pass stars Owen Wilson (Little Fockers), Jenna Fischer (Solitary Man) as well as Jason Sudeikis and Christina Applegate who co-starred with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long in last year's Going The Distance.
The ribald raconteurs, who might have hit a fever pitch in the late 1990s with their robust crude cinema, are back on a mostly offensive decline after a trend to soften up a little on their humor (like Stuck on You). It doesn't mean that they don't ease up on their reputation when it comes to their views on matrimony or its more conservative comfort zone.
In a tale where transgressiveness sticks out, the eponymous premise takes mocking, frantic flight from wives Grace (Applegate) and Maggie (Fischer) letting their respective bland, girl watching hubbies Wilson's realtor Rick and Sudeikis's insurance-selling Fred engage their loutish, inner child for a week. It came to a boil for Grace after Horndog Fred couldn't help himself while inside the car as some of the better comedic moments occur early on at an Applebee's and on a security camera.
Then a melange of the spastic and sporadic comes to the forefront as the filmmakers don't have the same coherent subversive spirit as in past, jarring escapades.
Risible situational scenes come up in a golf course and a hotel, among others, as the women have their own extramarital prospects with a vacationing college team in Cape Cod while at Rick's in-laws.
A mainly reactive Wilson tries to maintain his affable slacker persona (within the way he's hedonistically "wired"), while SNL alum Sudeikis veers between broad and subtle as they're in the venomous whirlpool of racial, sexual and scatological motivated gags.
Not that the Farrelly's don't have the flair for visuals or pungent humor, but the production as a whole represents the lowbrow nature of the philandering. There is some amusing room for their "regulars" when it comes to a wacky hotel waiter and Lothario Coakley, a tanned, leather-cladded Richard Jenkins, the latter talked about earlier by Rick, but seemingly short-shifted.
That may be due to rev things up in the outre, zany last act as the conventional coda doesn't justify its often lurid, unfair means where innuendo and taboos lurch robotically. This often abrasive, misogynistic "Hall" is marked with a few outrageous, eruptive scenes that may induce its share of convulsive behavior. But, its spontaneous embarrassment of distressful, lewd riches is more of a pass of leniency to grimace at.