While it might not seem so on the surface, there’s a heart beating at the center of the Farrelly Brothers’ films. Sure, we remember the gross-out gags from There’s Something About Mary and Me, Myself and Irene, but these films do take an intelligent look at relationships and people’s insecurities as well.
Their latest, Hall Pass, covers many of the brothers’ familiar themes and if it doesn’t succeed completely, it’s not from a lack of trying. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis star as Rick and Fred, two overgrown boys who don’t realize how good they’ve got it. Their wives, Maggie and Grace (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate), are beautiful, smart and much more attuned to the state of their marriages. While the men openly lust after other women, their wives fake passion in the bedroom or avoid it altogether. On the advice of one of their friends, and after Rick and Fred embarrass themselves in awkward sexual situations, Maggie and Grace give their husbands a week off from marriage to do what they wish, no questions asked. While the guys think they’ve hit the mother lode and imagine themselves awash in a weeklong bacchanal, they fail to realize that this frees their partners for a week as well.
Those expecting the Farrellys’ trademark tasteless gags will not be disappointed as they deliver enough crudity to satisfy their fans. However, their take on how marriages go wrong is at the core of the film. Obviously, taking a week off from marriage is a radical approach in solving this, but it gives the film the opportunity to correct some misconceptions about gender. These guys are not aging gracefully and their wives get more attention in their mid-30s than when they were younger. I suspect this is closer to the truth and the film’s honest look at marriage ultimately surfaces amid the sophomoric humor. In the end, the film proves what women have known all along, namely that most men are dopes and if you’re lucky, a woman will take pity on you and save you from yourself.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at firstname.lastname@example.org.