Friday, March 11, 2011

Squalor: Hall Pass

When I made the decision to rest my over-stressed brain with the Farrelly Brothers’ Hall Pass, I expected to tune out, laugh, and relax in a stupor of crudity and meaningless silliness. Instead, it's a treatise on the dangers of sprawl on a marriage wrapped up in far too much sentimentality to be funny.

Rick (Owen Wilson) is living the epitome of suburban life. He’s a good dad in a good sized McMansion filled with 3 sweet kids and a beautiful suburban wife (The Office’s Jenna Fischer). He gets his coffee at the local chain, ogles the barista with friend Fred (Jason Sudeikis) and recalls the good old days, when chicks were easy to get, and his shirt buttons weren’t buttoned up so high. After an embarrassing incident at a meet and greet at their wives’ friend’s mansion, both Rick and Fred’s wives give them a coveted “hall pass” that gives them a week off marriage. What the wives come (shockingly) to realize, however, is that the hall pass was for the wives all along.

The Farrelly Brothers aren’t exactly avant-garde, but Hall Pass plays it way too safe. Most of the humor comes from the obvious stereotypes of suburban life, rarely dipping into clever territory. Given their first taste of freedom, the men (curious friends in tow) end up at an Applebees to pick up girls at 9p.m., overeating and falling asleep before they have a chance to get their mack on. Minivan jokes are everywhere, and Wilson sports a Hawaiian shirt and socks pulled up high when he’s “going out on the town.” There were admittedly enough laughs to keep me in my seat, particularly from Stephen Merchant, the lanky British friend (currently on the Ricky Gervais show). But the majority of the time the laughter dies down into an amused chuckle or blank stare, especially when the Brothers inject the whole thing with the inevitable heartwarming goo that every relationship comedy ends with.

It is nice to see the tide of popular culture taking a turn towards respecting married life and the men and women that populate relationships; especially here as it’s clear the problem isn’t the relationship between Wilson and Fischer, but that they weren’t taking time to be together, to keep things romantic. But after so many of these comedies, it’s impossible to control the automatic eye roll when each character basically looks at the camera as a light bulb goes off above their head. Maybe I’ve just become jaded or maybe, like the suburbs, the film is just a bit too bland.

1 comment:

  1. Good review! It's too bad this one plays it safe. The concept felt like it could have been quite funny, in a not obvious way.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog!


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