...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hall Pass review

Kristen and I watched Hall Pass last night.  I was looking forward to it since the subject matter seemed ripe, especially in the Farrelly Brothers' hands:

Rick and Fred have been given "hall passes" from their wives so that they all may have one full week away from marriage to do whatever they want, free from consequences.  With Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson, Christina Applegate, and Jenna Fischer as leads it sounds like it can't miss, right?

It does.  Significantly.  To start with, most of the good stuff from the 105-minute movie is right here in this 2 minute 45 second Red Band trailer:

Warning:  Video not safe for work

Yep, that's about half the laughs.  The other half consist of an extended (take that as you will) penis joke and the postscript in the end credits.

I am very aware of the many hands involved in script development.  Many conflicting voices and notes are heaped upon the writers and directors before production can begin.  But whatever the collaboration of dissimilar voices may have been on this project, it does produce a singular writer's voice.  The film seems like it was written by a bunch of 19 year-olds who mined sitcoms and bad stand-up routines for their research into marriage.  So any honest, unique, or creative jabs at this institution are missing.  We're left with bland overused tropes and clumsy jokes about fake sex.

Also missing is the sense of danger that lingers in the best of the Farrelly Brothers' work.  There's Something About Mary had the zipper sequence, the violent retarded brother, gay sex rest stops, voyeuristic leering, and the low grade menacing insanity of all of the male characters.  And then there's the majority of the wrongheaded and refreshingly tasteless Me Myself and Irene and Kingpin.  But in Hall Pass even the profane pick-up lines, drug references, and graphic poop jokes are so harmless that they're kind of cute.

Finally, a note on product placement.  I understand the need for it in order to obtain funding to get some films off the ground.  But putting product placement in a film's dialogue is more awkward than a fart at a funeral.  Lines like, "I'm hungry, let's get some Mickey Dees" or "Chili's" or "Applebees" or "TGI Fridays" or "Subway" are distracting and stop a film in its tracks.  By Hall Pass's eighth dialogue product placement, I realized I was watching a glamorized commercial.  And it had lost me.  It clearly wasn't parodying product placement.  Because if it was, then the old Farrelly Brothers would have had that brave actress shart all over the walls at "Mickey Dees".