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Hall Pass

Jason Sudeikis, Richard Jenkins, and Owen Wilson in "Hall Pass"

The Farrelly Brothers—Peter and Bobby to their mom—hit it big in the 1990s with a series of raunchy comedies that you with never want to see with your own mom, Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary foremost among them. Their work has always had a strong sentimental side as well, though the two aspects don’t always work well together. After a decade of weirdly misconceived movies (Stuck on You, Shallow Hal, remakes of The Heartbreak Kid and Fever Pitch), they have their first shot at a box office success with this comedy about two 40ish guys (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudekis) who are given a week’s vacation form their marriages. What the film’s trailer doesn’t show you is that the wives (Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate) have a hidden agenda in this: Tired of the husbands’ perpetual ogling of other women and fantasizing about what studs they would be if they were single, they give them the week’s freedom in the same way you let a house cat clawing at the door out on to the porch—in no time at all it’s so terrified of the world outside that it’s begging to come back in.

Give the Farrellys credit for writing characters nearer their own age for a change, and for trying to examine real issues affecting grownups. Of course, the film still goes exactly where you think it will—the social order remains as firm as it did at the end of, say, 1967’s A Guide for the Married Man. But at least the women aren’t written out of the film after setting up the premise. And while a few of the gags are—I really hate to sound so prissy—grosser than they really needed to be, a lot of it had me laughing out loud. Don’t leave until the end credits are over, and I mean all the way over: You won’t have seen everything unless you’re still there when the house lights come up and the ushers start sweeping around your feet.)

—m. faust

Watch the trailer for Hall Pass

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