HALL PASS LOOKS LIKE another of these gross-out, sex-crazed bromantic comedies in the vein of Old School and The Hangover, and the bad omens don't stop there. To wit: It stars a Wedding Crashers alumnus (Owen Wilson). It has the Zach Galifianakis role played by the fat blonde brother from According to Jim. It's helmed by a pair of writer/directors (the Farrelly Brothers) who haven't connected with the ball since 1999's Outside Providence. All it needs is a cameo by Vince Vaughn, a few poop jokes, an unnecessarily long scene of male nudity, and it's good to go.
The Vince Vaughn cameo aside—and he's here in spirit, really he is—Hall Pass contains all of these things. But surprise of surprises, Hall Pass actually contains some genuine laughs, too, and for a movie like this, that's plenty. Wilson plays Rick, married with kids to Maggie (Jenna Fischer); his best buddy Fred (SNL's Jason Sudeikis, making a welcome transition to the big screen) is hitched to Grace (Christina Applegate). Rick and Fred are reasonably happily married—reasonably—but they can't keep their eyes from wandering to every young girl that crosses their paths. The film's opening sequences show Maggie and Grace constantly and thoroughly disgusted with their loser horndog husbands, because let's face it, men are silly and gross, right, folks?
Through a series of circumstances that actually don't seem as far-fetched as they should, and because an older friend (The View's Joy Behar, in a mercifully brief role) says something about reactance theory—the psychological theory that inappropriate arousal is a symptom of a perceived threat to freedom—Maggie and Grace grant their husbands a one-week "hall pass": a full seven days to go out and bang whomever and whatever they choose, with no marital consequences. Of course, Rick and Fred soon discover that getting laid at age 40 is not the picnic they imagined it to be, and of course Maggie and Grace find themselves pursued by a pair of ruggedly handsome minor league baseball players in the absence of their husbands. Hall Pass is (mostly) aware of its own absurdity, and goes straight for laughs. Most of the time, it succeeds.