Hall Pass

28 02 2011

CRUDE AND SHORT ON LAUGHS

Don’t be afraid to admit it: at one point, we’ve all dreamed about having a ‘hall pass’, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be free of life’s commitments. In this comedy, two friends are given the opportunity to be free from their married lives and do “whatever they like.”

Owen Wilson plays Rick, a loving husband and dutiful father who has a weakness for beautiful women. His wife, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) can tell that he is torn between staying faithful and fulfilling his sexual fantasies. Under advice from a friend, Maggie grants Rick a one week vacation from his marriage to do whatever he likes.

Another awkward moment in Hall Pass

Whether or not this friend was joking, Rick and his friend Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are now quasi-single and face a world of opportunities. The first place they go to celebrate this newfound freedom is, obviously, Applebee’s.

It takes approximately one night for Rick and Fred to realize that a Hall Pass is not everything they’ve imagined. Firstly, at the end of the day, they’re still married men and fathers. Secondly, they’re far too old to connect with the girls that they want to sleep with. Watching two middle aged men make painfully awkward sexual advances towards younger women comprises about half of the movie.

The crude humour and language had many older members of the audience groaning, but young movie-goers will realize that it’s not far off from how many people speak (or at least think). One of the highlights is when Rick and Fred are being unknowingly watched on surveillance cameras by a room full of people, including their wives, and begin to banter about everything from fake breasts to…cruder things.

The laughs may be cheap, but the movie debates a serious issue. At the beginning, joking about infidelity is a way of letting off steam. As the plot progresses, however, the issue of a hall pass drives the characters to question themselves and their marriage. Several recent movies have tried to explore serious issues through comedy (The Dilemma, or Click), but I feel this heaviness is best left for other genres to explore.

Both the characters and the audience realize the conclusion of Hall Pass early on. Nevertheless, the actors remain charming, and the chemistry between Wilson and Sudeikis keeps us entertained for the remainder of the movie. There are also some memorable scenes involving intoxicated golfers and a naked adventure in a sauna.

All in all, Hall Pass is at its best when it is crude. Couples will giggle at the relationship-type humour, and, at the very least, it adds several new words to our lexicon (fake chow, anyone?). Despite that, I was expecting more laughs, and I once again left a comedy feeling slightly cheated into watching a drama.

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