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A married man is granted the opportunity to have an affair by his wife. Joined in the fun by his best pal, things get a little out of control when both wives start engaging in extramarital activities as well.
For more about Hall Pass and the Hall Pass Blu-ray release, see Hall Pass Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 7, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Writers: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Tyler Hoechlin, J.B. Smoove, Jenna Fischer
» See full cast & crew
Hall Pass Blu-ray Review
A middle-of-the-road comedy, a middle-of-the-road Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 7, 2011
Judging by The Hangover Part II's current box office take ($340 million worldwide and counting), audiences love watching middle-aged men regress to adolescence. It remains a comedy staple and a go-to genre goldmine. But Hall Pass doesn't drop its bad boys in Vegas or strand them in Bangkok. It keeps its misadventures local and its gags low-key. Not that the results are any funnier for it. I know, I know... one man's dim-witted comedy is another man's laugh riot. Comedy is subjective and there's always someone, somewhere who'll be reduced to tears by any given film. I'm sure plenty of people laughed themselves silly while watching Hall Pass in the theater, and I'm sure plenty more sat in the middle of a crowd that did the same. The true measure of a comedy, though, shouldn't be defined by how a packed theater reacts, particularly when said audience is hopped up on Milk Duds and Mountain Dew. Laughter breeds laughter; it's Psych 101. No, the true measure of a comedy should be defined by how it plays when there isn't a frenzied crowd feeding off of each other's amusement. And Hall Pass, in spite of its best efforts, talented ensemble and occasional burst of hilarity, just doesn't measure up.
Best friends Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) -- directing duo Bobby and Peter Farrelly's middle-aged regressors -- aren't as colorful as The Hangover's Wolf Pack, nor are they meant to be. Sleepily married to their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), the two brothers-in-midlife-matrimony begin pining for the crazy parties, casual sex and go-anywhere-do-anything freedom of their college years. But Maggie and Grace do the unthinkable (or, at the very least, the ludicrously unexpected): they give their husbands a week-long vacation from marriage. No rules, no boundaries, no limitations; nothing but a second chance for their hubbies to sow their wild oats. Skeptical at first, the Farrelly man-boys soon round up a crew that includes their friends Flats (J.B. Smoove), Gary (Stephen Merchant) and Hog Head (Larry Joe Campbell). But what follows is about as tame as R-rated comedies get. Chili's runs, pot brownies, golf-cart chases, coffee shop pick-ups, meals at Hooters, detox days and night club jaunts with a veteran womanizer named Coakley (Richard Jenkins, the film's greatest asset). Tame as it all may be, though, therein lies the comedy. The more common the hunting ground, the more routine the goal, the more traditional the failure, the better. Unfortunately, Rick and Fred's oh-so-ordinary exploits turn out to be... well, too ordinary.
The Farrellys have been on a downhill slide since the glory days of Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin and There's Something About Mary. Their later films simply pale in comparison. Me, Myself & Irene, Osmosis Jones, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, Fever Pitch and The Heartbreak Kid -- some decent, some not-so-decent -- failed to achieve the success of the Farrellys' first three films and have, in large part, been overlooked by audiences and dismissed by critics. And Hall Pass? Sadly, it's one of their weakest, most inconsistent comedies to date. The Brothers' lineup of gross-out gags grow increasingly stale and predictable as Hall Pass plods along (the film's bathtub 'splosion can be spotted an hour away), the Hall Passers' rebellious antics fall flat, Fischer and Applegate are mishandled and ultimately wasted in infidelity-subplots all their own, Rick and Fred's female conquests are as forgettable as they are unfunny, and soppy sentimentality over-saturates the third act. In fact, my only outburst of laugher came a split-second before the credits rolled. Before that, it was a scattershot assortment of infrequent smirks, grins and chuckles. Nothing substantial, nothing all-consuming. And considering the talent involved -- Wilson is a personal favorite and Sudeikis has made the most of his current stint on SNL -- I have to say I was terribly disappointed.
If there's any saving grace, it's that I don't laugh for everyone. I'm no more an authority on comedy than I am an authority on what makes a Farrelly Brothers film satisfy some and torment others. Scenes that turned my face to stone will no doubt leave some among you doubled over, weeping uncontrollably and thanking the comedy gods for the Brothers Dim. For those who latch onto the Farrellys' late-career humor, Hall Pass will deliver the goods and, if nothing else, slap a smile on that face after a long, hard day at the office. There are lights at the end of the tunnel; it isn't all yawns and time-checks, even for someone like your's truly. Wilson and Sudeikis have great BFF chemistry, girl-next-door Nicky Whelan and bearded-hipster-with-a-gun Derek Waters make the most of their scenes with the film's leading men (Wilson's "think you're safe on that side of the counter" rant hints at what could have been), and Richard Jenkins' turn as a pick-up Mentalist is worth the price of a rental alone. All of that is to say this: there is no formula in film, especially when it comes to comedy. If your tastes tend to parallel my own, Hall Pass isn't a safe bet. But if Shallow Hal, Stuck on You or The Heartbreak Kid have a home on your shelves, the Farrelly Brothers' latest comedy deserves your full attention.
Hall Pass Blu-ray, Video Quality
Twice-baked skintones are the only strike against Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. Crisp, clean and crackling, everything else about the presentation delivers exactly what you'd expect from a recent theatrical release. Detail is refined and rewarding, offering perfectly resolved textures, oft-times razor sharp edges and unimpeded shadow delineation. Contrast is overheated -- much too overheated -- but I suspect it isn't far off from the Farrelly Brothers' intentions. Crush isn't a problem though, and black levels are nice and deep. Better still, colors are rich and vibrant, primaries sizzle and, barring a few flushed faces, the bronzed bods and tanned faces that populate Hall Pass aren't a distraction. As far as the encode is concerned, artifacting, banding and aliasing and nowhere to be seen, and errant noise, ringing and other oddities are kept to a bare minimum. It may not be the most lifelike picture on the genre block, but Hall Pass stands tall and proud; enough to easily impress everyone from comedy addicts to the Farrelly Brothers' most loyal fans.
Hall Pass Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hall Pass earns a serviceable... scratch that... fully accessible DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that, for all intents and purposes, seems to preserve the film's intended sound design. Like most chatty comedies, it's primarily a front-heavy affair. Granted, when Rick and Fred venture into an overcrowded, oversexed night club, the LFE channel and rear speakers get a welcome workout. But, for the most part, such immersive sequences are few and far between. Faint ambience is all there is to be had in coffee shops and restaurants, and the soundfield flattens whenever the boys' rowdier misadventures give way to in-car arguments, Hooters banter and bedroom sweet-nothings. Thankfully, dialogue remains bright, intelligible and neatly centered in the mix, and directional effects boast quick, believable movement. Low-end output follows suit when called upon, as do cross-channel pans, rear soundscape flourishes and the film's mish-mash soundtrack. All things considered, Warner's lossless track isn't going to give anyone fits.
Hall Pass Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Enlarged? Hardly. The extended cut of Hall Pass adds a mere seven minutes to the film's runtime, and offers a whopping six-minutes of special features. Nothing more, nothing less.
Hall Pass Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hall Pass didn't do it for me, and there's little else I can offer other than a warning: if you haven't enjoyed the Farrelly Brothers' post-Mary comedies, you probably aren't going to enjoy Hall Pass all that much either. Warner's Blu-ray release is problematic as well. While its video transfer is solid, its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track tends to be a bit too front-heavy and its supplemental package is a six-minute bore. (A thirteen-minute bore if you count the additional scenes and sequences featured in the film's extended cut.) In the end, I believe a rental is in order.
Hall Pass: Other Editions
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• This Week on Blu-ray - June 14-20 - June 14, 2011
Hollywood once again has aliens on the brain, and with today's Blu-ray release of Battle: Los Angeles, we once again get to watch the human race defend itself against a conquering alien race. The lack of originality should be obvious based on the title, training, ...
• Hall Pass Blu-ray Announced - April 29, 2011
Warner Home Video have announced that they will release on Blu-ray Peter and Bobby Farrelly's Hall Pass (2011), starring Owen Wilson (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited), Jason Sudeikis (What Happens in Vegas, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy), ...
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