DVD OF THE WEEK: Hall Pass

by Vadim Rizov

Hall Pass

In Hall Pass, Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) love their respective wives Grace (Christina Applegate) and Maggie (Jenna Fischer) but hate their lives, ostensibly because the sex and passion are gone. Fred's taken to masturbating in the car, setting off understandable alarm bells when the cops catch him in the act, while Rick can't get laid: the kids take up too much of Grace's energy. Confounded by their husbands' socially embarrassing discontent, the wives take the advice of neighbor Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar), their morning power-walking buddy: give the boys a week-long "hall pass" where they can sleep with anyone and see what happens. This is a corporate American comedy, so no spoilers here: the apparently intertwined values of monogamy and quietly dutiful suburban living will triumph in the end, the brief moment of transgression a reminder of how much safer and wiser it is to choose cautious stability over horndog impulsiveness. But the mildly eyebrow-raising premise is a red herring: the goal isn't getting laid, but Fred and Rick learning to live with their inevitably decaying bodies. Common sense and taking care of yourself trumps moral appeal.

Even during their '90s run as the Hollywood kings of the gross-out comedy, Bobby and Peter Farrelly were as identified with compassion for the marginalized and underrepresented as their penchant for shock gags: the obese in Shallow Hal, Siamese twins (!) in Stuck on You, dumb-sounding hicks from flyover country in The Heartbreak Kid (albeit as represented by Danny McBride, who owns this territory). That compassion extends to celebrities normally considered pop-culture punchlines: their oddball guest appearances include Tony Robbins getting better lines than Meryl Streep in Shallow Hal, so it's only natural that The View fixture Joy Behar should be a neighbor whose advice should be trusted. The Farrellys sincerely believe that, as the late Senator Roman Hruska once said, "there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers" in America who are "entitled to a little representation." Ethos and fundamental decency are always preferable to being a brilliant smartass, but the Farrellys' defensiveness isn't the unpleasant, aggressive kind typical of well-off people who inexplicably consider themselves oppressed; it's just a plea for a little compassion for boring but kind people. Those (granted, thoroughly unradical) values have always been part of their work, but they've aged better than their gross-out moments, which seem increasingly obligatory; Hall Pass is funny, but it's more effective when it's heartfelt.

Source: http://daily.greencine.com/archives/008076.html

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