Hall Pass Movie Review: Beyond Grossout Extra-Marital Babe Buffet


With a title that references high school, and is not about those pubescent years but maybe should be, Hall Pass taps into forbidden male fantasies immersed in dreaming about unshackled sexual appetites prior to tying the knot – or in this case the noose – in marriage. But since we’re talking the perverse leaning minds of the Farrelly brothers (Stuck On You, There’s Something About Mary), let’s just say that high school comedies have a comparatively far less infantile, cringe-worthy sense of humor.

Owen Wilson is Rick in Hall Pass, a suburban Providence, Rhode Island family man on the brink of premature midlife crisis. Rick is frustrated in the extreme by kids who seem to routinely show up just when he’s got bedroom consummation heavily on his mind. Along with a sense that his perpetually exhausted wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) complies more out of ‘duty than desire.’

And Maggie, who is increasingly irritated by Rick’s compulsive sexual gawking to the point where she feels like she’s married to ‘a horny bobble head,’ takes a tip from sage neighbor Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar in a scene stealing surprise cameo) to give the guy a hall pass. That is, a week off from marriage to go sex up his life guilt free, and cleanse his dirty mind of whatever unfulfilled impulses may be lurking there.

But bad behavior can have its down side, as domesticated sad sack Rick soon discovers. Foremost, that guy company while cruising meat markets in the vicinity would seem to be a must. And that lonely dilemma is quickly solved when envious and equally horny pal Fred (Jason Sudeikis) is hit with a hall pass by his own peeved spouse, Grace (Christina Applegate). While kicking in as peculiar aphrodisiac, are their rowdy male bonding buddies who don’t have hall passes, but like to watch.

And as these unleashed spouses are set loose in that enticing mating culture all around them, but mostly flub and flounder in a world they’ve long lost touch with, so does this movie. So with a stalled narrative that has basically nowhere to go, the plot descends into lots of lewd lingo, too much information body parts, and bodily fluid grossout interludes in radically bad taste. Never has such pornographically minded mayhem seemed so dull.

And while the whole wish fulfillment hall pass notion embodies a have your cake and eat it concept at its core, Hall Pass the movie does as well. In other words, subversively flaunting extra-marital babe buffet excess, but symbolically spanking the matrimonial miscreants too, as it ultimately detours into domestic correctional rehab, and conventional family values fare territory.

Warner Bros Rated R 1 star