Directed By: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Nicky Whelan, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant
| Studio: Warner |
Film Length: 105 minutes (Theatrical) 111 minutes (Extended)
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: June 14, 2011
The Film ***In Hall Pass, Owen Wilson plays Rick, a faithful and devoted husband whose tendency to ogle other women has become a source of embarrassment to Maggie (Fischer) his wife of several years. Jason Sudeikis plays Rick's best friend Fred, whose infantile sexual attitude is a source of embarrassment to his wife, Grace (Applegate), and pretty much anybody within earshot of him. When circumstances bring these character flaws to a head, Maggie and Grace give their husbands "Hall Passes", which amount to a week off from marriage during which they can live like single men and pursue their choice of single women free of consequences.
Viewers familiar with other Farrelly Brothers films will find themselves in familiar territory as Hall Pass blends their fondness for outrageous scatological humor with a litany of embarrassing situations visited on a sympathetic lead character. Owen Wilson proves capable as the film's relatable protagonist and generates sufficient empathy with the viewer to sell most of the make-you-wince gags revolving around his discomfort. The rest of the cast proves to be something of a mixed bag. Sudeikis proves frequently amusing as Rick's much less sympathetic foil, but a little of his character goes a long way, and the viewer is subjected to a whole lot of him throughout the film. Jenna Fischer, an actress I generally like, has a few scenes that come off terribly that involve her being saddled with extended pieces of expository dialog. Richard Jenkins turns in a scene stealing performance as "Coakley" a worldly swinger savant who is called in to attempt to salvage Rick and Fred's Hall Pass when they prove to be exceptionally inept at the dating scene from which they have been absent for several years. Stephen Merchant, Larry Joe Campbell, and J.B. Smoove offer some amusing, if a bit broad, gags as a trio of married pals attempting to vicariously enjoy Rick and Fred's freedom. Christina Applegate somehow manages to avoid stepping in any of the acting bear traps that affected Jenna Fischer's performance, and hits just about the perfect balance between comedic and dramatic to sell her potentially unlikable character.
As with other comedies in this vein from The Farrellys, the film's success or failure hinges on the ability of the audience to maintain sympathy for the characters as they stumble through the series of outrageously inapporpriate gags concocted by the writers. Perhaps even more-so, it also depends on the frequency with which these gags actually succeed at surprising and amusing the viewer. In this regard, the experience of watching the film at home can be quite different than watching it in a crowded theater. In the interest of full disclosure, I should therefore make it clear that I watched this by myself in my home theater and found the hit to miss ratio a little bit north of 50%. My guess is that a gag I found amusing concerning explosive diarrhea may have struck me as downright hilarious in a more communal setting while a gag involving extended (pun intended) male frontal nudity would have struck me as cheap and obvious in either setting, but I may never know for sure.
In any case, I would recommend those interested in checking out the film to assemble a group of friends, possibly slightly inebriated, and watch it together for maximum impact.
The Video ***½The 1080p high definition presentation is letterboxed to the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 and is encoded via the AVC codec. Colors seemed a bit odd, with slightly orange skin tones for some characters (not counting two characters who are supposed to be unnaturally tan in complexion). Sharpness also seemed to vary more than I would expect from a modern production from shot to shot. No obvious signs of digital video artifacts were present.
The Audio ***The DTS-HD MA lossless encoding of the film's soundtrack on both the theatrical and "Enlarged Edition" is solid but not spectacular. Starting with the mix, surround use was inconsistent with periodic scenes that seemed to open up the full three-dimensional sound field, but many more that anchor all of the sound in the front hemisphere. The lossless encoding shines best with respect to the film's music, which, like most Farrelly Brothers films, favors montages set to entertaining and non-obvious popular music songs over the use of a traditional film score. Dialog is surprisingly inconsistent in fidelity, but this is likely an artifact of how it was recorded rather than its mastering for home video release. Alternate language dubs are provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 in Spanish, French, and Portuguese for the theatrical version of the film only.
The Extras *½When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following skippable promos:
- Warner Blu-ray Promo (1:53 - DD5.1 - AVC HD)
- WB Insider Rewards Promo (1:18 - Dolby Digital 5.1 - VC-1 HD)
- Anti-Smoking PSA (:34 - Dolby Digital 2.0 - VC-1 SD 4:3)
A Deleted Scene (4:27 - Dolby Digital 2.0 - AVC HD) is actually an entire deleted sequence involving the original introduction of Richard Jenkins' character of Coakley. More Jenkins is always better, and this is definitely worth watching as a deleted scene. It seemed no more or less worthy of inclusion than the scenes that did get added back for the Enlarged Edition cut, but is significantly longer than any of the others.
Gag Reel (1:59 - Dolby Digital 2.0 - AVC HD) is the typical selection of bloopers and outtakes one expects from a gag reel, but the best available such clip involving a practical joke played on a cast member, appears as a "credit cookie" at the end of the actual film.
The disc is BD-Live enabled for access to the Warner Home video portal, but other than the ability to host a screening, there was no content specifically related to Hall Pass on the portal at the time of this review posting.
Finally, as with most Blu-rays of Warner theatrical new releases, this two-disc set also includes a SD DVD with Digital Copy which includes both a bare bones SD DVD presentation of the theatrical cut of the film with Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio and a choice of English SDH, French, or Spanish subtitles, and a choice of either a Windows Media or iTunes digital copy of the film for portable media devices.