Combustible Celluloid
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With: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Nicky Whelan, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant, Larry Joe Campbell, Bruce Thomas, Tyler Hoechlin, Derek Waters, Alexandra Daddario, Rob Moran, Lauren Bowles, Christa Campbell
Written by: Pete Jones, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett, based on a story by Pete Jones
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual humor throughout, language, some graphic nudity and drug use
Running Time: 105
Date: 02/23/2011

Hall Pass (2011)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Crass 'Pass'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the 1990s Bobby and Peter Farrelly became synonymous with the gross-out gag, but their best work always had a genuine kind of warmth and sweetness. After they reached their peak with There's Something About Mary (1998), that sweetness became forced, and the gross-out gags became obligatory; they became separate considerations instead of one naturally springing from the other. Hall Pass is their first film back after the repugnant The Heartbreak Kid (2007), and it reaches roughly the "eh" level of Stuck on You (2003) and Fever Pitch (2005). If the Farrellys were the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team, this would be their Hot Shots! Part Deux.

Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play buddies Rick and Fred, married and living a dull suburban life (Rick has kids, Fred does not). Their wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) are also buddies, and they each grow tired of their husbands' unstoppable libidos. So after some hemming and hawing, comes the title "hall pass," or a week off from marriage, in which the guys hope to score with lots of chicks. Unfortunately, they're so disconnected from reality that they don't even know they have silly haircuts and that white undershirts are not sexy. Their adventures are, not surprisingly, rather inert. If the Farrellys genuinely cared about these people, they would have realized that Applegate was one of the funniest supporting actresses in the business and given her something to do.

None of it is terribly surprising; jokes about showing men's penises are routine now. Even the big showstopper "hair gel"-type joke (involving an upset tummy and a bathtub) is only worth an amused chuckle.

New Line Video has released a double-disc set, with a DVD and digital copy on one side, and Blu-ay on the other side. The movie comes in an extended "Enlarged" cut, which is roughly six minutes longer. By all reports, none of the new footage makes much of a difference -- although one scene features Armie Hammer, who played the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network -- and I did not want to sit through the movie again. There's a not-too-bad deleted scene with Richard Jenkins, and a dull gag reel.

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