A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this "hard R" comedy is as raunchy, scatological, and irreverent as you'd expect from a Farrelly brothers movie. The plot -- two husbands (played by Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) get a one-week reprieve from marriage and its attendant responsibilities (including fidelity) -- hints at what the movie's like. Expect full-frontal male nudity (as well as a breast-flashing scene), lots of sexual innuendoes and graphic discussions about sex acts, drinking and drug use (pot brownies), and frequent swearing (everything from "butt" to "f--k").
What's the story?
Lifelong friends Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) have grass-is-greener syndrome; even though they love their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), they can't stop checking out other women and imagining what it would be like to bed them. After one humiliation too many, the women decide to give their husbands a one-week “hall pass,” allowing them to step out of their marriages for seven days and pursue whatever -- and whomever -- they want. Little do they realize that the hall pass applies to their wives, too... Chaos ensues when everyone attempts to embrace the notion of freedom, only to realize that love and marriage are more complicated than their "simple" plan.
Is it any good?
HALL PASS is a foul-mouthed, raunchy, ridiculous, sometimes gross, and inevitably funny movie. It goes all out with jokes inspired by bodily functions gone awry and situations played strictly and outrageously for laughs. In enough moments, it manages to carry it all off, primarily because the humor is so brazen that you're shocked into submission (though one particular scene involving full-frontal nudity is just on this side of too much). But there are also plenty of groan-worthy scenes that could just have easily been left on the cutting room floor. The tired, sexist jokes about wives should have been relegated there, too, as well as one (or two or three) scatological jokes.
Without Wilson, this comedy would be insufferable; somehow, he makes it sort of likeable. The actor -- who has played enough eternal-bachelors-gone-good -- now does doting dad and distracted husband quite well. His transformation actually seems plausible. But as funny as he is, Sudeikis' Fred is overdone: He's a callous, crass, hormone-driven character who doesn't quite come across as genuinely changed when his arc comes to its (formulaic) end. The movie could also have done with fewer predictably quirky friends and engineered-to-be-nutty moments. Credit goes to the Farrelly brothers for handling the wives' response to the hall pass with some complexity, but in the end, the movie doesn't quite earn a proverbial pass for its transgressions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie depicts marriage and relationships. Do you think something like this could happen in real life? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values when it comes to marriage and commitment.
Does the film stereotype husbands and wives? Does it add any nuance to the battle of the sexes?
Does the movie need all of the swearing, sex, etc. to be funny? Does any of the humor cross the line? Who decides where that line falls?
- In theaters: February 25, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 14, 2011
- Cast: Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Owen Wilson
- Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual humor throughout, language, some graphic nudity and drug use
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.