Director: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate
The masters of the so-called Frat Boy comedy, the Farrelly brothers (There's Something About Mary), return to reclaim their mantle from recent pretenders Todd Phillips (The Hangover) and Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), with this sweetly scabrous misadventure set in the world of fortysomething marrieds. Here, Wilson and Sudeikis are classic Farrelly protagonists, playing dweebish beta males who are given a seven-day "hall pass" by their understanding wives (Applegate and Fischer) in order to escape from the drudgery of marriage. Naturally, the boys are romantically deluded, and the comedy that thus ensues is based on the enormous gap between their expectations of the week ahead and the painful practical reality of life on the single scene - they go to the wrong bars, chat up the wrong girls, get embarrassed, beaten up and arrested and are generally clueless throughout. Add to this a softly nuanced performance from Wilson (he delivers a winning third-act monologue about the nature of emotional commitment), plus some scene-stealing support from Stephen Merchant (Extras), and you have the hallmarks of a comedy smash. And yet Hall Pass, at times, tries too hard. The gross-out gags that were once an outrageous Farrelly staple are here somewhat laboured (only a sudden surprising diarrhoea set-piece is truly original). The disappointingly rote finale, including car chase, guns and mayhem, emulates perfectly the spirit of The Hangover, but belongs in a different and weaker movie altogether.