Hall Pass review

Owen Wilson’s off the leash…

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A ‘hall pass’ is a ‘freebie’, a ‘laminate’, a ‘timeout’. Get used to the concept, because the Farrelly brothers’ latest romp is likely to prompt pub discussions.

Would you allow your other half to have a week of consequence-free horn-dogging in order to enliven your relationship?

That’s what Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate) decide to do when their schlubby hubbies can’t keep their eyes off passing ass.

Allowed to go hog-wild for a week while the ladies hit the beach house, rick (Owen Wilson with distractingly square hair) and Fred (SNL’s Jason Sudeikis) round up the guys and head to various chick-magnet destinations to sow their seeds. But what if it’s not so easy to get laid?

Though still reassuringly gross-out and letchy in places (a one-night-stand sneeze is spectacular), the Farrellys seem to have mellowed (lost their bite?) somewhat, keen to puncture the idea that what you wish for is better than what you already have.

They’re also content to poke gentle fun at middle-aged suburban family guys who talk of mistily-remembered singledom, fall into food comas before 9pm and whose idea of a pick-up joint is Applebee’s at happy hour. (Be warned, if you’re over 30 some jokes may promote wincing.)

Yes, it’s predictable that the chaps will find meaningless sex, well, meaningless and pine for the wives who may be getting more action. But, like the extra-curricular nookie they so desperately crave, this chuckler isn’t about how you’re doing but who you’re doing it with.

Human Labrador Wilson is as good as he’s ever been (his dad-dancing and inept pulling techniques are sweetly funny rather than boorish), Stephen Merchant adds a dash of the absurd (especially during a stoner golfing sequence) and Sudeikis gamely carries the yuck factor.

Shame the ladies aren’t given as much to do (they’re cut-out nags and slags) but, as everyone here ultimately discovers, you can’t have everything.

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Editor-in-Chief, Total Film

Jane Crowther is the Editor of Total Film magazine and the Editor-in-Chief of the Film Group here at Future Plc, which covers Total Film, SFX, and numerous TV and women's interest brands. Jane is also the vice-chair of The Critics' Circle and a BAFTA member. You'll find Jane on GamesRadar+ exploring the biggest movies in the world and living up to her reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on film in the industry.