“Hall Pass” (2011)

Hall Pass

★★★★☆

The Farrelly Brothers are back. While not as outlandish as some of their past films, “Hall Pass” marks a return to the almost brutal comedic style and against-type-casting which makes their movies so unpredictable to watch.

The basic premise is that Owen Wilson and his friend are given a one-week free pass from marriage – to go and screw around and get it out of their system. Wilson is without his usual long and flowing hair, and sports a nerdish suburban style. It works. Between that and the wardrobe he’s in he really looks the part. It’s completely not what you expect from Wilson.

The storyline itself isn’t anything all that breakthrough, but it’s well-told and the message at the end works. As with Farrelly movies things usually end well and you walk away smiling and feeling good – which is quite a trick given some of what goes on in the film.

There are a number of interesting twists – I won’t give them away here – but not every character is what he or she appears to be. It’s unusual to be really surprised by a comedy these days. This one sneaks up on you as the main characters themselves are pretty normal – they’re just traversing a very weird Farrelly World.

The gags are amazing. They don’t move the plot along but they make the movie what it is. They’re both subtle and blunt. For instance, in one scene Wilson and his friends are having a big dinner before they head out to bag some babes. After the meal, one of the guys – a big fellow nick-named “Hog Head” – announces that he needs to go home to have a bowel movement (though in a more colorful way). One of the other guys asks if he can’t just use the bathroom in the restaurant. His answer: “I’m pretty sure I’ll need a bath afterwards.” Subtle. Brutal. It lets the viewer use their imagination to set the scene in the man’s bathroom.

And that was one of the more subdued jokes.

This is a great flick. Not for kids. And not for folks with mild sensibilities. Check it out.