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Hall Pass: Enlarged Edition Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

Hall Pass (2011) movie poster Hall Pass

Theatrical Release: February 25, 2011 / Running Time: 105 Minutes (Theatrical Cut), 111 Minutes (Extended Cut) / Rating: R / Songs List

Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly / Writers: Pete Jones (story & screenplay); Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett, Bobby Farrelly (screenplay)

Cast: Owen Wilson (Rick Mills), Jason Sudeikis (Fred Searing), Jenna Fischer (Maggie Mills), Christina Applegate (Grace Searing), Nicky Whelan (Leigh), Richard Jenkins (Coakley), Stephen Merchant (Gary Putney), Larry Joe Campbell (Hog-Head McCormick), Bruce Thomas (Rick Coleman), Tyler Hoechlin (Gerry), Derek Waters (Brent), Alexandra Daddario (Paige), Rob Moran (Ed Long), Lauren Bowles (Britney Long), Christa Campbell (Emma Mills), Macsen Lintz (Gunnar Mills), Kristin Carey (Aunt Meg), Joy Behar (Dr. Lucille Gilbert), Carly Craig (Nicotine Patch Girl), Kaliko Kauhi (Chief), J.B. Smoove (Flats), Vanessa Angel (Missy Frankenopolis), Andrew Wilson (Larry Bohac), Alyssa Milano (Mandy Bohac), Kathy Griffin (Herself)

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The Farrelly Brothers serve up another dose of R-rated comedy in Hall Pass, which supplies some of the sophomorism and sex the writers-directors are known for and also some of the sincerity and heart they've increasingly been slipping in.

Owen Wilson stars as Rick Mills, a straight-laced Providence real estate agent,
a family man who is happy with his longtime wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and their three young kids. Still, Rick has a wandering eye, which annoys Maggie even if she suspects he'd never cheat on her. When Rick reverses the baby monitor parts, Maggie overhears him and his Poker Night buddies describing what they'd give for a secret consequence-free taste of infidelity.

She is not pleased, but at the advice of her award-winning psychologist friend (Joy Behar), Maggie decides to grant Rick the eponymous hall pass, a one week anything-goes vacation from their marriage. Maggie takes the kids to Cape Cod, leaving Rick to run free back home. He's not alone, either. An embarrassing incident earns his insurance-selling best friend Fred (Jason Sudeikis) the same privilege from his wife Grace (Christina Applegate).

While the ladies are living it up with a minor league baseball team on the Cape, Rick and Fred are savvily plotting their highly-anticipated indiscretions, receiving encouragement and questionable assistance from their still-leashed friends (Stephen Merchant, Larry Joe Campbell, J.B. Smoove). As the days pass, each marked by the familiar "Law & Order" intertitle sound, the likelihood that Rick and Fred are going to be able to act upon the freedom they've been given diminishes. But a couple of people -- admired ladies' man for life Coakley (Farrelly veteran Richard Jenkins) and attractive Australian barista Leigh (Nicky Whelan) -- could be enough to shake things up.

Granted one-week hall passes, Fred Searing (Jason Sudeikis) and Rick Mills (Owen Wilson) re-enter the dating scene with difficulty, putting faith in off-color pick-up lines suggested on the Internet.

The Farrellys don't work all that often; Hall Pass is their first feature since the 2007 Ben Stiller flop The Heartbreak Kid. When they do, their output is consistently adequate. The brothers haven't had a huge hit since There's Something About Mary, the only film besides their breakout debut Dumb and Dumber to cross the $100 million mark in the US. Earning a tepid $45 M, Hall Pass actually marks their highest grosser since 2001, narrowly edging their softly performing three prior releases (Stuck on You, Fever Pitch, and Heartbreak Kid).

Still, whether or not their material connects with audiences or critics, who have never been as high on them since their two '90s blockbusters, I regularly find their comedy sufficiently diverting. I don't love their movies or get pangs to rewatch them, but I like them well enough and probably enough to keep their makers happy. Hall Pass reminds me of their past efforts: able to get a big laugh here, misfiring there, unsettling with some ribald and gross gags, and doing a decent job to ground the piece in thoughtful humanity. Being all over the place like that precludes the duo from ever being more than a mixed bag, but that they can pull off such a balancing act without making a complete mess is itself an accomplishment.

The two buddies seeking sex at the heart of this movie may remind some of Wilson's Wedding Crashers and it plays somewhat similarly to that without as many laughs. Wilson plays slightly against type, as the unconfident husband who is completely behind the times, sporting tucked-in Bruce Springsteen t-shirts and quoting John Mellencamp songs. Complimenting him is Fred, who is all talk and no action, a role that Sudeikis pulls off nicely. The sexual politics arising from the contrasting performances of the parted husbands and wives do not necessarily welcome discourse or resonate profoundly. But it's obvious that the siblings are looking to do more than just make you laugh. And they do get you to think and feel more than the cover art and moniker ("Enlarged Edition") of Warner's Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy lead you expect.

While the guys try to score with chicks, wives Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate) hang out with the players and coach of a Falmouth baseball team. Australian barista Leigh (Nicky Whelan) tolerates Rick's dated musical references and ignorance.

As the tramp stamp of the bikini-clad, title-covered woman of unclear origins proclaims, Hall Pass is presented in an Extended Cut, but only in the two-disc combo pack and only then on Blu-ray.
Thankfully, the 105-minute theatrical cut is also preserved on the Blu-ray. Running six minutes and 12 seconds longer, the extended cut (which received the same R rating and content description from the MPAA) is not significantly different. The extended cut drops some mild additions in the middle of the movie.

All in all, by doing an A/B comparison, I found eight new bits and one reordering of existing scenes. The longest gains come back to back right at the halfway point; the first finds Rick trying online dating at his office, the second has Fred pay a visit to divorcée (Kingpin's Vanessa Angel, only brief seen in the theatrical cut) in hopes of a hook-up. Another added scene casts The Social Network's Armie Hammer as a bouncer who accepts a bribe and loses his job over it. There are also some brief snippets of Rick having bad luck in a bar with a snake and his shirtless bar dance, and one other self-contained bit involving an awkward solo lunch stand outing mistake.

Those expecting more nudity and crudeness will be disappointed. Those more reasonably expecting a changed or bettered movie aren't likely to be bowled over either. Films rarely improve when sequences cut for theatrical release are reinserted and it'd be troubling if the extended cut greatly differed from what went to cinemas. You definitely can't complain about being given a choice, though.

Watch a clip from Hall Pass:

Hall Pass Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); Theatrical Cut-Only: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-Only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Two single-sided discs (BD-25 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP), standalone Blu-ray ($29.98 SRP),
and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Hall Pass looks pretty good on Blu-ray. The Farrellys are not known for creative visuals and the unremarkable 2.40:1 ones of this film do nothing to change that. The picture boasts the clean element and great detail now commonplace on BD, but it has a faint blotchy feel to it hardly worth mentioning but still keeping this from a rave review. Typical for the directors, the soundtrack is full of a wide range of licensed music, which breathes some life into a fairly standard 5.1 DTS-HD mix, especially in booming nightclub scenes. The barely extended cut is likely to be a bigger reason than picture/sound gains for going Blu on this title over DVD.

Overly compressed to make room for the digital copies (to which over a third of the disc's available space goes), the combo's DVD transfer comes up short compared to the industry at large. But it doesn't look too bad, especially on an average-sized screen or at a further than usual viewing distance. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is just fine (the combo DVD drops the Spanish and French dubs of the standalone DVD).

The fabled Coakley (Richard Jenkins) provides a lesson on how to get out of a DWI arrest in this deleted scene. Boys will be boys in the backseat of a car. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis crack up in the brief blooper reel.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Besides the alternate cut (whose additions frustratingly aren't viewable on their own), Hall Pass' Blu-ray delivers just two bonus features.
A deleted scene (4:27) shows us more of Richard Jenkins' fabled guru Coakley, as he is introduced in a McDonald's and proceeds to make mincemeat of a police pullover that should get him arrested for drunk driving. It's an entertaining sequence that the movie ought to have included, with the Oscar-nominated actor's uncharacteristic performance ranking among the film's highlights.

The other extra is a 2-minute blooper reel, which is fairly standard. Among the missed lines, airplane waits, and contagious giggles, a flubbed take of a TV version line stands out.

There is also a BD-Live section, which wouldn't load for me and wouldn't even tell me that until several minutes of waiting proved fruitless. Oddly, I've yet to be able to access one of Warner's BD-Live areas, although my experiences with other studios' sluggish promotional equivalents lead me not to mind.

The Blu-ray disc opens with promos for Blu-ray and WB Insider Rewards and against smoking. Seems like another missed opportunity to promote The Hangover 2, not that it needs the help.

Adhering to the simple Warner standard only without a score to excerpt, the Blu-ray's silent menu is simply poster art while navigation is punctuated by the studio's usual putt, fizz, and bass drum sounds. The DVD gives us its version of the same main menu, with only a language selection screen beyond it (because scene selection would have been going too far?). The DVD sold on its own includes the deleted Richard Jenkins-centric scene, but not the gag reel. Have you heard that studios don't want you to buy DVDs anymore?

Though it doesn't support bookmarks, the Blu-ray sometimes resumes playback, provided you were playing the movie when you turned off your player.

While different from the DVD and Blu-ray sold on their own, the combo pack's slipcover and case artwork remain pretty similar, featuring Wilson and Sudeikis on both spines (a rare touch for Warner). Inserts supply directions and a code for redeeming the combo disc's digital copy and a defense of BD-Live.

Maggie (Jenna Fischer) scolds Rick (Owen Wilson) for checking out another woman, the act that starts the longtime couple on the path to a hall pass. Only in the extended cut of "Hall Pass" can Rick (Owen Wilson) be seen playing with a snake at a bar.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I'll say the same thing about Hall Pass that I would about almost every Farrelly Brothers comedy: see it once and expect to laugh from time to time. Any movie that can go from an upsetting diarrhea splatter to a genuinely heartfelt moment in twenty minutes deserves something. What that something is, I don't know. But I've got the same ambivalent feelings for this movie as for the directors' last three. Hilarious in stretches and mature in others, Hall Pass doesn't come together to be better than the sum of its parts, but the mixed bag is enough to call semi-satisfying.

There is slight disappointment in this Blu-ray being lighter on bonus features than past Farrelly films and other New Line comedies, both of which have produced their fair of share of fun extras. But the presentation suffices and, though nothing major, the extended cut is a welcome alternative.

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Related Reviews:
New - 2011 Comedies: Just Go With ItNo Strings Attached | Written/Directed by Peter & Bobby Farrelly: The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
Owen Wilson: How Do You KnowMarley & MeBottle RocketThe Darjeeling LimitedDrillbit Taylor
Jason Sudeikis: The Bounty Hunter30 Rock: Season 3Semi-Pro | Richard Jenkins: Step Brothers
Jason Sudeikis & Christina Applegate: Going the Distance | Jenna Fischer: Blades of GlorySolitary Man
Christina Applegate: Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season | Nicky Whelan: Scrubs: The Complete Ninth Season

Hall Pass Songs List: Deer Tick - "Art Isn't Real (City of Sin)", "Houston TX", "Christ Jesus", "Spend the Night"; Ellis Paul - "Heaven's Wherever You Are", "The Cotton's Burning", "Nothing Left to Take", "Monster Riff 1", "Annalee", "Waking Up to Me"; Bill Cunliffe - "She's Married", The Beach Boys - "Wouldn't It Be Nice", YACHT - "Psychic City", Michael Haggins - "Break of Day", Styx - "The Best of Times", Paul and Linda McCartney - "Monkberry Moon Delight", Mike Post - "'Card Sting' from 'Law & Order", Billy Goodrum - "Waiting for the Sun", Gordon Gano & The Ryans - "Way That I Creep", Cypress Hill - "Hits from the Bong", Susan Sandberg - "Days Gone By", Stella Bass Band - "Tighten Up", Pete Yorn - "Bad Man", Hallo Kosmo - "Drums and Bass", Stella Bass Band - "Amazing Grace", Supergrass - "Cheapskate", Snow Patrol - "Just Say Yes", Stella Bass Band - "Jam", Bill Leyden - "Song of the Sand", Generationals - "When They Fight, They Fight", Michael Franti & Spearhead featuring Lady Saw - "Shake It", Röyksopp - "This Must Be It", Empire of the Sun - "We are the People", "Walking on a Dream"; Akron/Family - "Everyone is Guilty", The Prodigy - "Run with the Wolves", Witchman - "Zero 2 Hero", Larry Tee and Princess Superstar - "Licky (Vandalism Remix)", Spoon - "The Mystery Zone", Ellis Paul - "The Day After Everything Changed", "The Lights of Vegas"; Black Mountain - "Druganaut", "No Satisfaction"; Brookville - "Happy", Peter Wolf - "Overnight Lows", We Were Promised Jetpacks - "Quiet Little Voices", Shout Out Louds - "Play the Game", The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Shakin' Rock 'N' Roll Tonight", Peter Wolf - "Always Asking for You", The Black Angels - "Telephone", Lissie - "Everywhere I Go", Marmalade - "Reflections of My Life", The Bogmen - "Oceans Apart"

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Reviewed June 9, 2011.



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