REVIEW: Hall Pass

4 07 2011

It’s a shame that “Hall Pass” doesn’t have a less contrived script or a bit more maturity.  If it had these things, it would be one heck of a comedy.  But alas, it doesn’t, and what we are stuck with is a few decent laughs held together by a string of ridiculous events.

It could be worse, though, as Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play off each other pretty well.  Their sex-crazed babbling combined with a blooming barely-adolescent brain and the libido of a retirement home patient re-entering the game is absolutely outlandish.  Yet as childish as practically every line and situation was, I would find myself chuckling in spite of it, mostly along with Sudeikis.  Maybe it’s because he’s used to finding nuggets of gold inside of crap at “Saturday Night Live,” but whatever it is, the man is some kind of funny.   Wilson, on the other hand, feels past his prime with humor quality receding almost as precipitously as his hairline.

But these two hopeless husbands get a chance to live out their dreams in order to relieve their woebegone wives (played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate).  In the words of Joy Behar, it’s a “hall pass.”  The movie never really cashes in on the high concept, just as Wilson and Sudeikis’ helpless sex drive leads them nowhere while their wives, in the words of Justin Timberlake, “get their sexy on.”

The stupid shenanigans distract from anything meaningful that “Hall Pass” might have to say about marriage.  I’m doubting there actually was anything in the way of commentary as the characters sure don’t seem to have any scruples about the messed-up events of the movie.  It’s definitely a far cry from The Farrelly Brothers’ “There’s Something About Mary.”  As for the conclusion of this review, I’m not really sure whether to steer you towards or away from the movie: it’s just another middling, forgettable comedy that I couldn’t feel more ambivalently about.  C / 

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What To Look Forward To in … February 2011

9 01 2011

February comes, and with it the Oscars to celebrate 2010 in cinema!  Here are some movies I doubt we will be toasting this time in 2012.

February 4

“Sanctum” looks like a movie worth the price of 3D.  No stars and a somewhat enticing plot could make for a great experience.  Oh, and having James Cameron’s name in the trailer helps.

The Roommate” could make a decent chunk of change since it has teen stars Aly Michalka, Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, and Cam Gigandet to its name.  How good or thrilling it will be really can’t be deduced from the trailer – and maybe it’s not something I want to see heading off to college next year.

Thanks to a qualifying run, Halle Berry’s “Frankie & Alice” is eligible for 2010’s awards and has so far racked up a Golden Globe nomination.  That’s been about it for the previous winner, and an Oscar nod doesn’t look likely.  But if she does get it, there could be quite a few people flocking to this curious drama about a woman with multiple personality syndrome.

Speaking of Oscar nominations, Natalie Portman is almost certain to receive one for “Black Swan,” but her movies don’t stop there.  In addition to “No Strings Attached” coming out in January, she has “The Other Woman,” a 2009 Toronto Film Festival hit, being released theatrically.  (It’s also available on demand beginning in January.)

Also not likely to be hitting a theater near you: “Cold Weather,” a detective film that played 2010 SXSW, “Dressed,” a fashion documentary, and “Waiting for Forever,” a romance featuring Rachel Bilson.

February 11

Forget the birds in Arkansas falling.  If you are looking for a sign of the apocalypse, look no further than “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” in pointless 3D (as if you needed any indication that Paramount is soaking the Bieber cow for all the money its worth).  If it does well, you may find yourself with me wishing the apocalypse would come a little sooner.

The Eagle” sure doesn’t look much better as it’s just wannabe “Gladiator” period action fading into white noise.  Poor Channing Tatum managed to lose top billing to Jamie Bell in the trailer; maybe they chose only to advertise someone with acting skills.  “Gnomeo and Juliet” could be OK; at least we haven’t seen a million talking lawn gnome movies.

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston sure didn’t have a good 2010; his “Grown Ups” and her “The Bounty Hunter” both charted on my 10 worst of the year.  So I guess when two fading stars cross each other’s paths, nothing good can come of it?  Their collaboration on “Just Go With It” seems pretty contrived.  I’ll see it, of course, in the hopes of finding a laugh or two.  Maybe Nicole Kidman can save this, just hopefully not at the expense of her Oscar campaign.

On the indie side of things, “Cedar Rapids” sure looks promising.  A fish-out-of-water comedy involving Ed Helms’ small-town boy getting into trouble in the booming metropolis of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the movie seems like a perfect foil for Sandler’s comedy.  With John C. Reilly, Sigourney Weaver, and Rob Corddry on board, I’m really looking forward to this.

February 18

Thankfully for “Just Go With It,” there will probably be a much worse comedy released in February, and it comes dressed in drag and a fat suit.  “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” is a sequel that no one wanted, and it quite frankly looks like something meant to go straight to DVD.

Meanwhile, “I Am Number Four” is so cryptic and based on such a strange premise that I have a hard time getting excited to see it.  I’ll have to wait for audience and critical reactions before I can seriously consider shelling out my money for it.  If it hits big, though, Alex Pettyfer could have a nice breakout 2011.

“Unknown,” a new Liam Neeson thriller, looks like something I’ve seen before.  But at the same time, it looks thrilling and entertaining.

On the indie side of the coin, there’s “I Am” for all those who like Christian movies.  The movie is about the true nature of God, something that could be quite powerful for many people of faith – as long as they can find a theater that will show the movie.

February 25

Or, who knows, “Hall Pass” could be the worst comedy of February!  An Owen Wilson/Jason Sudeikis pairing seems inspired, but when they debate whether to pick up women at Applebee’s or Olive Garden, I’m worried that it’s going to be horrifically pathetic.

The enigma that is Nicolas Cage is back with “Drive Angry” as a dude who breaks out of hell.  It’s stranger, though, than Julianne Moore’s venture back into horror with “Shelter,” a creepy sci-fi thriller with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers doing some weird stuff with his mouth.

There’s no trailer yet for “Of Gods and Men,” but it’s been a big fixture among critics groups as a pick for Best Foreign Language Film.  I’d love to see some of it, but the clips are all in French.

So, that’s February!  What are YOU looking forward to?!?  As always, take the poll and comment!