After a quartet of hit comedies in the Nineties - Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There's Something About Mary, and Me, Myself and Irene - the Farrelly Brothers (Peter and Bobby; where's Greg?) - hit the skids in the new millennium with a streak of critical and commercial disappointments and outright flops. With their latest, Hall Pass, they still are back to form, but they do deliver some big laughs from time to time.
Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are two dopey (but not dumb) guys married to Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate respectively. Owen and Jenna have three kids and have been togther about 20 years; Jason and Kelly Bundy have no spawnlings. When the wives get offended by their hubbies mild ogling of other women, they take the advice of shrink pal Joy Behar - well, there's a mistake right there! - to give their husbands a "hall pass," a week off of marriage when they can do whatever they want. The wives will go to vacation places on the shore and Owen and Jason can see just how studly they really are.
Compared to lowbrow-yet-with-heart movies by Judd Apatow like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, the Farrellys have a tough time balance the tart and sweet aspects. The often hilarious raunchy gross-out bits clash with the more tender moments to show that the couples really love each other and don't wish to stray, even when they take a step off the straight and narrow. There is little danger or risk and the "shocking" full-frontal male nudity in one spot is so clumsily handled, you just feel embarrassed for everyone involved.
The performances are good (though Sudekis is an awful lot like he was in Horrible Bosses; limited range?) included the pals of the pair and the hot coffee shop babe (Nicky Whelan) Owen has his eyes on. Hall Pass takes forever (for a comedy) to get going, but when it's on, it's funny; it's just a lumpy mixed bag overall.
Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.