Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant, Nicky Whelan
Director: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Writer(s): Pete Jones, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Kevin Barnett
Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti
Original Score: Various
Running Time: 105 Mins.
It would seem that in the 14 years since There’s Something About Mary the Farrelly brothers have been struggling to find their way in the Hollywood comedy circuit, ever upping the gross-out ante while becoming more schmaltzy at the same time. They have eeked out effort after effort, Shallow Hal, Stuck On You, The Heartbreak Kid each somehow being worse than the last, it really is a shame because in their heyday of Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary they really were the kings of comedy, meaning Hall Pass isn’t their worst film but in all fairness that really does damn the film with faint praise.
Running to keep up with the likes of current comedy greats (Judd Apatow, Todd Phillips) these boys really are churning out stale blueprint comedy plots that could ultimately be hilarious in the right hand but seem to be stuck in some kind of 90’s time warp, gross-out really doesn’t cut it alone and explosive diarrhoea induced by a sneeze or cringe-worthy chat-up lines have been done before, by the Farrelly’s no less, and to actual funny effect. Scenes in a nightclub seem to have been cut from Shallow Hall (Pretty looking girls that are actually ugly) grim sex scenes (all of their films) and supposedly loveable guys who are pathetic at worst and shameful at best.
In all fairness the target isn’t highbrow but a comedy should be funny if nothing else, there are two scenes that do elicit a chuckle or two to give the film its due and both concern well-worn cliché, so we have the scene whereby the leads all eat hash cakes and play golf and a late in the day show by Richard Jenkins who is funny but I’m certain it has more to do with it being Richard Jenkins in a Farrelly film than the script being funny! And oh what a script it is, in interviews the brothers have talked of how they take a long time slaving over jokes (hence why they aren’t keen on improv), all I can say to this is they really are disillusioned and maybe SHOULD give up the day job as theres only so much more of this, not even half-arsed, guff.
Usually the presence of a good comedy actor can elevate even the weakest material, not so here in fact the presence of Owen Wilson does just the opposite and I spent the majority of the film thinking of Wedding Crashers and how good Wilson was in it, particularly in scenes that ape that excellent gem. He is a funny guy but needs good material to work with and with the inability to do improv there isn’t a lot he can do, Sudeikis fares much better though perhaps that is because there really isn’t much comparison for me to draw on other than Going The Distance. Often the support cast can raise a titter or two but the obligatory “best mates” disappear halfway (literally, we never see or here from them again) though for my money that was a saving grace given Stephen Merchant in one of the most irritating performers around!
If the men are poorly executed the women are wafer thin, or whatever could be thinner, given one I would waver are the years most hackneyed story arcs and the weakest characters with no redeeming featres, Christina Applegate can do comedy, and well at that, but as Sudeikis neglected wife all she is afforded in terms of character development is a brief fling with a baseball player topped off with the obligatory “comedy injury…I could go on picking fault but really I loathe to waste any more time on such a lazy and weak film.
Oh how this mighty have fallen (in comedy at least!), the Farrelly brothers offer up yet another weak comedy that apes their past glories and try to emulate recent comedy greats very badly though surely the worst crime on display here is the laugh count in Hall Pass…or lack thereof!!