Movie Review: Hall Pass
Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years ago
Before I start on ‘HALL PASS,’ I’d like to start this review by saying this: I always root for the underdog and when finding out Writer Pete Jones is behind this film, I needed to give it my respect and undivided attention. I’m sure most reading this may be asking “Why would someone by the name of Pete Jones matter whether you’ll watch this film or not?” Okay, I’ll tell you… Chicago native Pete Jones is a man which stands on his own when visually defining someone who beat the odds in a business among challenging thousands, and through the roughest of terrain while maintaining his own, the man literally won a contest whom most snubbed back in 2001, and even though most thought he’d fade into a population of failed artists, ten years later his name is still floating around. I’m happy for him. And if it weren’t for a once then airing show titled ‘PROJECT GREENLIGHT’—basically ‘AMERICAN IDOL’ for filmmakers with a tweak—who knows where this man would be today.
‘PROJECT GREENLIGHT’ was a contest and television series focusing on first-time filmmakers being given the chance to direct a feature film. It was created by Alex Keledjian, developed by Eli Holzman and produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Sean Bailey, and Chris Moore through their production company ‘LivePlanet,’ along with a then active ‘Miramax Films.’ ‘PROJECT GRENLIGHT’ first aired on HBO for two seasons before moving to Bravo for season three.
Seeson One (2001): The script contest ran from September 2000 to March 2001. Over 7,000 screenplays were submitted, and Pete Jones was selected as the winner for ’STOLEN SUMMER,’ which he then filmed on location in his hometown of Chicago during the summer of 2001. The first season of ‘PROJECT GREENLIGHT,’ chronicling the selection of Jones's script and the filming of the movie, aired on HBO from late 2001 through early 2002. ‘STOLEN SUMMER’ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2002, then went on to a limited theatrical release which brought in just under $140,000.
Following ‘STOLEN SUMMER’ (2002), ‘OUTING RIELY’ (2004) and ‘MY BIG FAT INDEPENDENT MOVIE’ (2005), a more maintstream chance has landed him another shot at Hollywood’s golden touch when teaming up with The Farrelly Brothers in ‘HALL PASS.’ Produced and directed by The Farrellys, they also served as tweak writers along with Kevin Barnett and Pete jones himself to help strip out a much more solid story entirely CREATED by Pete himself.
Taking it up a few notches and reaching a level of comedy raunch, ‘HALL PASS’ follows Rick (Wilson) and Fred (Sudeikis) as best friends who have lots in common, including the fact that they have each been married for many years. But when the two men begin to show signs of restlessness at home, their wives take a bold approach to revitalizing their marriages: granting them a "hall pass," one week of freedom to do whatever they want... no questions asked! The taboo-like approach at first sounds like a dream come true for Rick and Fred, but it isn't long before they discover that their expectations of the single life--and themselves--are completely, and hilariously, out of sync with reality.
Right off the bat I’m going to say this: ‘HALL PASS’ is the kind of comedy which delivers on two levels… One being the raunchy language and implication which keeps perverts like myself enticed with what will follow, however, simultaneously (two) allowing those on the much lighter side of romance the chance to perhaps relate and reassess their relationships and maybe in strange ways workout agendas to keep their flame alive.
Filled with ‘LAW & ORDER’-based follow-up “chapter” noises, the undertone with this film pretty much exposes the truth about what was once easy and enticing, after a few years strays away due to ripening a/k/a “mid-life crises.” From Day one and beyond, the horny journey of men out on the prowl in this film never ceases to make one laugh. Much of the dialog I felt was meant to lead one into believing it’ll remain a flat-line, however, the genius in writing comes from beats that leap as quick as they drop. Whether a whisper by an extremely relaxed Owen Wilson or sweet kids questioning about their mom’s body, WE start to realize how WE are the film’s language. The jokes flare on all counts (I.e. Visually, Sexually etc.), and although after the second half one’s able to pretty much know where the story’s going, there’s a bit of a curve-ball when the wives start to realize how it really wasn’t about their DNA encoded horny men, but themselves. Why? Well, I don’t want to say it’s due to typical female insecurity, but, yes… the venom-induced idea about blowing things out of proportion IS INDEED due to their insecurities. The unfolding of their subplot becomes apparent once out in the open and questioning their consequence-free enforced “hall pass.”
The acting isn’t anything one can consider Academy Award winning performances, but to much of their credit, the cast did what they needed to do. Reaching objectives and hitting marks… comedic acting isn’t easy. Making friends or family laugh is one thing, but keeping a crowd laughing… now that’s something that carries pressure and not something everyone can do. Yes, the science to this stems from writing, but without a subject to deliver it properly and provide emotional life to words is also critical. The audience was rolling as I recall and a lot of this film doesn’t just lend comedic touch to dialog, but scenes as well. I think a scene which will remain fresh in the minds of everyone is an extremely unexpected Jacuzzi/steam room scene at a gym. You’ll see what I mean once you’ve seen it, and although it may lean towards what some may label a stereotype… it worked very well and the girl sitting next me couldn’t stop laughing while repeating “Oh, my God” about ten times.
The Farrelly brothers never allow this film to steer off in another direction although implied in the film’s trailer or synopsis, however, in subtle ways displaying these preppy White-Collar suburbanites thriving on their routines more than they do the possibilities of conquering unknown ass!
Like any typical Hollywood film, whether a group of men or women, you’ll have the token black person, the loser fatty and that one foreigner who seems to be the group’s proper voice-of-reason. ‘HALL PASS’ has it as well and even though a balance was presented within the husbands and wives, it would have been GREAT to have seen more with surrounding characters which didn’t even serve as supporters, but more like simple day players. They all had potential in strange ways, and why they didn’t go there is strange considering the way it was laid out. If the purpose was just to fill in scenes, keep them off and explore more within a story pertaining more towards the leads. Therefore, to a degree I did come across small disappointment, but whatever… that’s neither here nor there. They totally make up for it once a long time single friend who is mentioned throughout the film is introduced.
Despite my take in that last paragraph, I’d like to once again congratulate former underdog Pete Jones for maintaining his sanity and looking forward to more.
On a side note: I’m a Howard Stern listener and recall a few years ago him mentioning having been presented with a script. The premise seemed similar to ‘HALL PASS’—wondering if this is actually the film he read before declining. (Can anyone confirm?)
In the end, ‘HALL PASS’ is raunchy enough for the guys and romantically induced enough for women to soak with.