Saturday 17 March 2018

Movies: Hall Pass **

(16 general release)

Paul Whitington

For almost 20 years now, the Farrelly brothers have been successfully peddling their not-so-subtle brand of humour. Bad things happen to unsuspecting body parts in Farrelly films, sexual grossness abounds and unseemly fluids fly.

Hall Pass is no exception, and once it gets going the film lands its two trademark Farrelly idiots in all sorts of trouble.

Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are two married suburban men who have started taking their wives for granted.

When Rick's wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) seeks advice from a relationship guru, she's told to try giving her husband a 'free pass' from his marriage for a week, so that he can get whatever it is out of his system.

And when Fred's wife Grace (Christina Applegate) finds out about this, she decides to do the same. So the wives decamp to a holiday home, leaving Rick and Fred to re-sow their wild oats.

Given this ludicrous premise, Hall Pass turns out to be moderately funny. Rick and Fred's hunt for females is predictably farcical, and Stephen Merchant is hilarious as a laconic but not especially helpful friend. But, as usual in Farrelly films, the men get all the jokes and even such a talented comic performer as Applegate is rarely thrown a bone.

The writing isn't all that subtle either, and before long the Farrellys are reduced to penis jokes and the kind of scatological catastrophes they're famous for.

Wilson and Sudeikis perform well enough to give Hall Pass a veneer of respectability, but the brothers Farrelly have been making the same film for a very long time, and the formula's wearing pretty thin.

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