Bobby and Peter Farrelly are two brothers that seem to have a knack for making what many consider obnoxious and obscene movies. They also have a knack for making movies that some consider modern day parables. There is a new movie on DVD, Hall Pass that fits both of those criteria and while it reminds me a great deal of the feelings I felt with the movie The 40-Year Old Virgin, there are enough unique attributes to it that I expect the DVD release will attract a growing audience.
The premise of Hall Pass is quite simple; two married couples have over their years of marriage gotten caught up in the monotony of marriage, including sex. There are the consistent wondering eyes from two husbands, Rick, played by Owen Wilson and Fred played by Jason Sudeikis. Rick’s wife Maggie, played by Jenna Fisher has grown cold towards her husband. While she has fallen into suburbia, complete with the kids and nice home, she has obtained many of her dreams but has become cold in the bedroom. Rick has wondering hormones and desires his wife sexually. Fred on the other hand is married to Grace, played by Christina Applegate. Grace is similar to Maggie; the difference is that Fred has found some dangerous solutions to his problems. While he thinks he is pulling things over on Grace, she is fully aware of his actions.
One night during a poker game Maggie over hears on the baby monitor the ‘guys’ talking about getting hooked up with other women. The wives later decides with the advice from a friend to give the guys a ‘Hall Pass’, or a one week exemption from marriage. They can do as they wish, no strings or questions attached for the week. What neither of the couples realizes is that not only does a Hall Pass constitute freedom for the husbands, but also for the wives. In the exploration for freedom not only are their some funny moments but also poignant moments regarding relationship and marriage.
One of the things that make Hall Pass work is the Farrelly Brothers know how to make an audience laugh. They provide quality direction that has most everything working. From the quality of acting, to lighting, and from the soundtrack to the editing process it all works. The excellence of the brothers seems to be their ability to get real life moments into a movie while at the same time addressing real life issues. Many of those moments are gross, yet, funny. There is also the ability to develop characters in unique situations that add to the enjoyment of the story.
One of the things I have liked about the Farrelly Brothers over the years is their ability to not only develop their primary characters, but also their ability to have memorable minor characters in a move. Here we see each of the primary characters develop in such a way that while we are laughing at their experiences we care about the situations they are in. I found myself caring so much that I was talking to the screen, (one of the benefits of watching the DVD.) While there is humor in each character there are some funny moments that come about as a result of the minor characters. Included here are some wonderful bits by Richard Jenkins who plays the part of Coakley, a legendary womanizer, and Derek Waters who is hilarious as Brent.
Many are offended by movies of this nature, including the methods used in telling the story. I am not so put off by it because like it or not, the bottom line is important themes are being addressed with people who may not get those themes any other way. There are so many levels of spirituality addressed in a Farrelly Brothers movie that it is hard to figure out where to start. I will touch on one I felt strongly about in the movie.
In Hall Pass there seems to be a level of distrust which exists in many marriages and relationships. In that place one comes to a place where one forgets about things that are important, such as the love and trust that should come about in a meaningful relationship. All through the movie we see individuals who have forgotten about relationship. There are distractions, sometimes even good distractions like children that take one away from their original love. Another problem comes when the focus of what is important is placed on self as opposed to those around you. It is when one takes their eyes off of the one that is to be loved, and focuses on self that trouble ensues. Unfortunately, that is the way it is in life. I am reminded in my own faith of the need to love my God with my all, and to love my neighbor as myself. It is in the way I love others that I ultimately love God, and in that place, find God’s love for me. For many that love starts at home.
I have to admit, there are many laugh out loud moments in Hall Pass. I liked the characters and I liked the story. I know many will take offense at the material. There are times, as is the norm with their films, that some of the things portrayed on screen are either on the border of being offensive, or clearly crosses the line. There are some crude moments that for even me were difficult to watch, especially in the extended cut of the DVD. I liked the movie though and think it is one worth watching if one can be okay with the crude moments. For many, just as I think the brothers intend, there are ample thought provoking moments that can lead to good, meaningful discussions.
As to the DVD, while worth owning, it still falls somewhat short in some of the features I look for. There is an extended cut of the movie that is even cruder than the theatrical version and a few special features including a deleted scene and a gag reel. The transfer for Blu-ray is quite nice and there is a nice soundtrack which accompanies the movie. While this isn’t the best Farrelly Brother movie, it is still entertaining and enjoyable. If bothered by sexual content, discussion, and portrayals, it likely isn’t for you, but much like The 40-Year Old Virgin there are some really good themes that will have an impact on many watching this movie.
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