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“Hall Pass” Doesn’t Pass Muster

This raunchy comedy opens today in in the Triangle area at a multiplex near you:

“Hall Pass” (Dirs. Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly, 2011)

At a preview screening of this film the audience in the packed theater cheered during the trailers when the cast of the upcoming “The Hangover Part II” hit the screen.

I knew right then that this crowd was going to absolutely love what was ahead. And they did from start to finish of Hall Pass – they laughed loudly at every sex joke, masturbation joke, drug/alcohol joke, every single scatological shenanigan, every utterance of profanity, everything.

So much so that I missed a lot of dialogue, but, hey, I’m not complaining about that.

I more than got the gist that the premise – Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live) are long married yet still juvenile horndogs who are given a week off from their marriages by their wives Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Christina Applegate – was just another excuse for the Farrelly brothers to again bombard the populace with their brand of extremely cheap humor.

From “Old School” to the oeuvre of Judd Apatow, the boy-men-who-can’t-grow-up-genre has been so much better served.

There are a few laughs here and there – the familiar Law and Order sound effect greeting the day 1-7 segment titles is funny, and there are a fair amount of decent (though not laugh out loud) one-liners, but they are a rarity among the hundreds of groaners throughout.

There’s an odd mixture of a supporting cast: Stephen Merchant (who’s usually not far away from Ricky Gervais), J.B. Smoove, Joy Behar (!), Alyssa Milano, and most ridiculously Richard Jenkins as a too tan gold necklace sporting swinger who guides the 2 men in their quest to get laid while their wives are out of town.

Predictably Fischer and Applegate are themselves tempted by convenient suitors so the film tries to grow a heart in its last third, but by then I was so worn out by the tiresome cramming of foul gags into every scene that I really didn’t care how it turned out – who scored, who realized the supposed strength of their love, who got punked –none of it mattered to me.

But then, I may be in the minority because from what I witnessed at that screening, there’s no denying that it’s a crude crowd pleaser that will probably be a big hit.

To me, however, it just confirmed that the Farrelly brothers are still on my short list of my least favorite film makers.

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