Hall Pass (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Hall Pass</strong> (2011)

(On-demand Video, April 2012) I’m never too sure whether I should be annoyed or relieved when mainstream Hollywood comedies end up neutering their daring premises with innocuous plot developments.  Audiences don’t like to be unnerved when they’re supposed to be laughing, and I suppose that I’m no exception.  Nonetheless, there’s something maddening in seeing a film about married couples agreeing to mutual indiscretion racing to a conclusion when nothing really happened.  (Actually, it may be best to ignore the fact that the one woman who did something, albeit briefly, ends up punished by a car crash that ends up not much more than a plot point for her husband’s emotional growth.  But such is the way of Hollywood, and this includes the emotionally-retarded male protagonists who are supposed to earn our sympathy. The gender politics here aren’t particularly even-handed here, which is keeping in mind the target audience of the film.)  Still, Hall Pass has a number of laughs in reserve, especially when the protagonists can’t even begin to imagine how to take advantage of the freedom they’ve bargained for themselves.  Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis (who, in-between this film, Horrible Bosses and A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, is carving himself a bit of a niche as a sex-obsessed protagonist) are both as charming as they can be in characters who are barely emotionally adults, although it’s Richard Jenkins who gets the biggest laughs in short appearances as an even older and less mature professional bachelor. The problem is that by ultimately playing it safe, Hall Pass doesn’t do anything that warrants any lasting attention.  Despite a few out-of-place graphic gags, it’s a disposable comedy destined to the bargain bin.

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