By Carl Kozlowski
Being a married guy can be tricky. On one hand, the married man has the security and stability of domestic life. Then again, some men wish they could still play the field, ogling and even hitting on anything in a skirt.
The question is what do you do when 20 years of marriage starts grating on you? Do you slide into silent resentment of each other? Or do you possibly give yourself and your spouse a pass—a week off from marriage aimed at letting you walk on the wild side in the hopes of making you appreciate your spouse again?
That’s the intriguing premise of Hall Pass, the latest outrageous comedy from writer-directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly. The film follows the antics of Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis), good family men who are nonetheless horny and bored after years of family life.
Their wives (played by Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer) encounter a psychiatrist (Joy Behar) who suggests the “hall pass” idea to save their marriages. But as the guys are cheered on by a chorus of buddies, they find that hooking up is way harder than they remember.
Not to be left out, their wives head off on their own weeklong vacation and find surprising temptations of their own.
Hall Pass is easily the funniest movie the Farrelly brothers have made since their trio of classics in the 1990s: Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. It’s a welcome return to no-holds-barred yet clever raunch after they fell off track into sentimentality with Stuck on You and Fever Pitch.
Here, they’ve struck comedy gold with a universal dilemma and aren’t shy about exploring nearly every possible funny angle, using outrageously witty dialogue through at least three shockingly funny set pieces that give Mary a run for its money.
They also expertly walk a daringly fine line. We’re supposed to root for them to “score,” yet the moment they might actually cross the line, they lose most of our sympathy. The inventive array of complications our guys encounter keeps things zipping along, while the ace cast makes the audience wonder what they themselves would do each step of the way.