Movie review: 'Hall Pass'

**1/2 (out of four)

Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are sure they’d be major studs with all the hotties in Providence if not for being, you know, married. So their wives (Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate), tired of their guys leering at other women, give them a chance to put their bodies where their eyes are: A “hall pass” granting one week off of marriage.

The buzz: Directors/co-writers Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s last movie, 2007’s terrible “The Heartbreak Kid,” was a long way from the raunchy success of “There’s Something About Mary.” The filmmakers always have been softies, though (see the underrated “Fever Pitch” and “Stuck On You”), so maybe they’ll take a surprisingly honest look at marriage in “Hall Pass,” which has plenty (but not enough) in common with Katie Aselton’s excellent recent indie “The Freebie.”

The verdict: Talk about trying to have your cake and have sex with it, too. The Farellys retreat from the hall pass notion almost immediately, giving the guys far more doubts than stamina on their way to not trying very hard to close the deal. Yet this is still a sometimes misogynistic gross-out comedy, which leads to predictably unfunny bits about pooping on a golf course or bringing home a woman who does something so disgusting you don’t even want to hook up. It’s a shame that “Hall Pass” doesn’t take sharper comic and dramatic aim at the twisted joke it occasionally recognizes: These guys’ imaginations have nothing to do with reality, and they view the opportunity to act on a fantasy as terrifying, not awesome. The movie instead goes soft and strips difficult emotions from a complicated situation to suggest that men may be sex-obsessed perverts, but deep-down everyone prefers domestic love. True or not, that’s a cop out.

Did you know? Fred claims the reason he was on a porn Web site (whose name we can’t print here) is because that’s where he gets his weather updates. Don’t even act like a dirty joke didn’t just pop into your head.

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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