A WEEK off from marriage. Seven days without the ol’ ball and chain and a chance to relive glorious memories of your once fruitful years.
You know, the ones when it was all sex, drugs and rock n roll ‘25/8’.
The perfect opportunity you and your buddies joke about when playing poker and smoking cigars round the kitchen table.
The hall pass is every suburban husband’s fantasy – or so we are led to believe.
From the same Farrelly brothers that gave us Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself and Irene and Shallow Hal comes a fresh look on middle-aged married life.
Rick (Owen Wilson) is just an average man, when a night out with wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) sparks new found trouble in their seemingly perfect existence.
The couple’s attempts of rekindling the romance is constantly interrupted by their three children.
But it’s when the house is quiet their hidden flaws rise to the surface.
Joined by his buddy Fred (Jason Sudeikis), married to Grace (Christina Applegate), the child-like chums have trouble putting a lid on their attraction towards other women.
A visit to a nearby coffee shop gave the audience the first of very few laughs, when Fred began to frantically blink at the beautiful barista behind the counter. He explains he is logging “mental images” of her for his disposal later that evening.
Frustrated at their husbands’ lack of discretion, Maggie and Grace seek the help of female guru Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar) who suggests the hall pass in an attempt to breathe life into their stale marriages.
It allows them to live out their dreams, no questions asked, however, both Rick and Fred realise their memories are far from in sync with reality.
In the latest of Hangover-inspired comedy’s to hit the big screen, this falls flatter than most.
Though running down the same theme of ‘when the cats away’, the film tries to incorporate too much into the mix and as a result leaves many disjointed storylines from the four Hollywood A-listers.
Those hoping for an Owen Wilson performance in line with the heights of Wedding Crashers and Meet the Parents trilogy will be hugely disappointed.
He looks awkward but still manages to keep the audience on his side, although, in reality, he is a married man on the prowl. Hiding behind a veil of “duty to mankind”, the boys struggle to motivate themselves for the task ahead.
Dining at family restaurants and being ditched by their friends, who see right through their fabricated fantasies and lusty desires, the less than dynamic duo are on course to go crawling back to their wives – who themselves are having more fun than expected.
The introduction of male guru Coakley (Richard Jenkins) gives Rick and Fred a second wind.
The Granddaddy of Players puts lead in the boys’ pencils and teaches them to write in a way previously unknown to them. It works, and the two are well on their way to honouring the responsibility of the hall pass.
A late twist sees an unexplainable turn of events which comes ‘straight out of left field’ for the two couples. It also exposes the film’s downfall – where cheap jokes overshadow the meaningful message and their wives’ tales are shallow, too shallow to comprehend their actions.
Reunited to resolve their indifferences, the lovers shack up in the woods.
As comedies go, this will never do anything to further their careers, and for Wilson the role will never offer him an alternative to the scruffy-35-year-old-that-has-trouble-growing-up role he thrives in.
Highlights include a day of dope on a golf course and an inexplicable explosion in the bathroom.
by Matt Brooks
star rating HH