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Hollywood Product: Hall Pass

Despite its talented cast, the Farrelly brothers' gross-out comedy falls flat



GENRE: Men-will-be-boys raunchfest

THE PITCH: Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play Rick and Fred, suburban husbands granted a week of no-strings-attached freedom from their wives, Maggie and Grace (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate). Trouble starts when the guys realize that it's harder to pick up women than they remembered, and the wives realize that the "hall pass" works for them, too.

MONEY SHOTS: Rick fantasizes how a tryst with the baby sitter could ruin his life. Passing police check out Fred during an intimate moment alone. The guys' hedonistic friend Coakley (Richard Jenkins) shows how a tall blonde looks less hot when she's not surrounded by her plain friends. During the closing credits, their pencil-necked English friend (Stephen Merchant) imagines his hall pass go outrageously wrong.

BEST LINE: Grace busts Fred: "This morning you left the computer on" "I get my weather from that site," Fred claims.

MOST SUSPECT LINE: "Does it matter that their dreams come true and ours don't?" Fred argues, equating female aspirations to have a home and kids with less attainable male fantasies.

WORST LINE: "I want to watch you guys pick up chicks, not talk about dicks," laments the tragically underused J.B. Smoove.

FLESH FACTOR: Buffalo shot when the guys' pal Hog-Head (Larry Joe Campbell) poops on a golf course. After a hot tub mishap, Nick gets rescued by two guys with junk in full view. Grace enjoys the attentions of a collegiate admirer with an eight-pack. A hot Australian barista (Nicky Whelan) goes topless in a shot that will make the real married guys in the audience weep for their own hall pass.

FASHION STATEMENTS: Rick sports a striped shirt with a plaid shirt. The couples have rich friends who constantly wear sweaters tied around their necks — even the kids. Fred's sleep apnea mask makes a great running joke. Coakley proves he's a playa by wearing a black T-shirt, porkpie hat and bling at a club.

SOUNDTRACK HIGHLIGHTS: Lots of Deer Tick, Ellis Paul and Peter Wolf, but the most memorable tune comes from the front-and-center use of Styx's "The Best of Times" when Fred pleasures himself in his car. Also, Snow Patrol's "Just Say Yes" sets up a reference to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s Snow Dogs.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: A visit to Applebee's as a pick-up joint seems like a joke on the chain's expense until one of the guys says — unironically — "You're not gonna get a better hunk of meat than you get here." The film also prominently uses Ben & Jerry's, Coca-Cola, the Providence Journal — even a novel by George Pelecanos.

NOTABLE CAMEO: Joy Behar plays the wives' psychologist friend who suggests the hall pass idea. Kathy Griffin appears as herself.

MY EYES! MY EYES! Hall Pass looks terrible — meaning it has harsh, overbright lighting, makeup that's either too pale or too fake-tan. Perhaps meant to exaggerate privileged white picket-fence suburbs, but it just makes film unpleasant to look upon.

LOCAL COLOR: Although the film takes place in Cape Cod and Providence, R.I. (the Farrelly's usual stomping grounds), it was largely filmed in Atlanta. The guys make a disastrous attempt to pick up women at Johnny's Hideaway, while Atlanta actress Patricia French kills her line about the definition of a "faux job."

THE BOTTOM LINE: Writer/directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly try to combine their trademark gross-out jokes (including an unsettling "wet fart" gag) with the male bonding and risqué observational humor of Judd Apatow. The film finds a few big laughs (including a "Law & Order" running joke) but makes the talented cast look terrible while wasting an intriguing premise about open relationships. Some guys just can't seem to grow up.

Related Film

Hall Pass

Director: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

Writer: Bobby Farrelly and Kevin Barnett

Producer: Mark Charpentier, Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

Cast: Owen Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Merchant, Vanessa Angel, Alexandra Daddario and Tyler Hoechlin

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