Hall Pass Hall Pourselves

Tuesday March 8th 2011

Is it just me or has misogyny become so rampant in mainstream Hollywood comedies that it’s ceasing to be offensive? It’s got to the point where I’m liking The Dilemma just because it’s not quite as vagina-hating as Couple’s Retreat, and films like Love and Other Drugs are getting a pass purely because they’ve got female characters who aren’t just there to shake their heads disapprovingly at the wild antics of the menfolk.

I was equally unfazed by the central premise of Hall Pass, in which two overweight middle-aged men with inexplicably attractive wives are given carte blanche to fuck whoever they want for a week as a respite from the shackled hell of only being able to have sex with Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate. You know, Christina Applegate:

She’s got a really nice personality too. Fucking bitch.

So the men get their ‘hall passes’ (a phrase that’s repeated roughly every twenty seconds just in case we start to suspect that it’s not actually a well known concept that everybody’s already heard of) and the women go off to some kind of retreat to eat chocolate and stare at pictures of puppies hugging each other. The film that follows has all the requisite swearing, nudity and self-conscious attempts to be transgressive you’d expect from the Farrelly brothers – with this being a particular low point – but like most of their films, it also desperately wants to have it both ways.

So for every HORNY DRUNK CHICK (this is going to do wonders for my SEO) there’s a heartfelt speech about the importance of true love; for every MARIJUANA BROWNIE MISHAP there’s a sudden realisation about the validity of marriage. All of which might be fine except that we’re supposed to cheer on both attitudes with equal vigour and that simply doesn’t work when the film flits between them with such frequency.

In which case, perhaps the film’s biggest failing isn’t its attitude towards women (although by comparison it makes The Dilemma look like a work of radical feminism) but its disguising of an inherently conservative movie as some kind of anything-goes frat house sex romp.

The Farrelly Brothers are both approaching sixty and unfortunately, it shows. Hall Pass is the confused death squeal of a creative partnership well pass its best and all the poo jokes in the world can’t change that.