Sunday, March 13, 2011

At the Movies: Hall Pass

This weekend the bf and I saw Hall Pass. It'd already been dropped from one theater and shunted to a small screening room in another, so I knew we had to act before it disappeared into the land of On Demand. Is it me, or do movies seem to move on at warp speed these days?

Anyway, I've set forth a nice little challenge for myself for this review. I'm not going to spoil the ending! I'll say here and now that this decision may mess with my formula, resulting in an unbalanced and lackluster write-up. But I'm willing to risk that if you're still willing to read it.

So, Hall Pass. We've got two couples: Rick and Maggie (Owen Wilson and Jenna Fischer) and Fred and Grace (Jason Sudeikis and Christina Applegate). As I'm sure you know, the wives are sick of their husbands gawking at other women, so they follow the advice of their psychologist friend (Joy Behar) and issue them hall passes - one week off from marriage, no questions asked. Even in light of this questionable proposition, Rick and Maggie are established early on as the moral compass, whereas Fred and Grace represent more of the "what if?" factor. The men inaugurate their week of freedom with a pig-out dinner at Applebee's, slowly working their way up to a golf course, a coffee house, and a gym, attempting the bar scene only on the last night when their notorious bachelor buddy (a really scary-looking Richard Jenkins) rolls back into town. Maggie and Grace, on the other hand, spend the week at Maggie's parents' beach house, where they are hit on by a college baseball coach and player, respectively, without so much as batting an eyelash, proving, of course, what most of us already know - that it's much easier for a woman, married or otherwise, to find a date than it is for man (regardless of how lecherous that man may be).

That having been said, Hall Pass offers a few plot twists and some sweet surprises. That's not to say that it doesn't serve up its share of gratuitous gross-outs. (It doesn't come from the Farrelly Brothers for nothing.) As for the characters, Wilson is unexpectedly and endearingly nerdy as family man/realtor Rick, and Fischer slips comfortably into the nice girl role that made her famous as Pam on "The Office." Sudeikis's Fred is the typical tries-to-get-away-with-as-much-as-he-can best bud, albeit not exactly lovable. At one point he tells Rick that women in general and their wives in particular get to live their dreams, whereas men don't, phrasing it something like this: "Maggie used to play house as a kid, right? So, you bought her a house. She used to play kitchen; you bought her a Viking (stove). She wanted to be a mommy, and you made her one. But what about us? You don't see me hosting "The Price is Right" do you?" Yep, Fred. Women have clearly won because that's all we want out of life: houses and babies. Thankfully, Applegate's feisty Grace is more than up to the challenge of tangling with him.

Overall, Hall Pass was more fun than I'd expected. Stay tuned for the next spoil-free movie recap :)

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