Hall Pass

Warner Brothers

Rated R for profanity, sexuality, drug use, graphic, male frontal nudity and pervasive crude humor.

Owen Wilson And Jason Sudeikis Co-Star In Raunchy Buddy Comedy

Peter and Bobby Farrelly are famous for cranking out crude teensploitation flicks like Dumb & Dumber (1994), There’s Something About Mary (1998), Me, Myself & Irene (2000), Shallow Hal (2001) and Stuck On You (2003). Owen Wilson, on the other hand, is a relative-cerebral thespian known for his droll sense of humor. He’s also an Oscar-nominated scriptwriter (for The Royal Tenenbaums) with such sophisticated offerings on his resume’ as Rushmore (1998), The Life Aquatic, with Steve Sissou, (2004) and The Darjeeling Limited (2007).

Therefore, when you hear that the Farrelly Brothers wrote and directed Hall Pass, you figure something had to give. And if you’re wondering whether Owen’s subtle, tongue-in-cheek demeanor was compatible with their preference for boorish behavior, it wasn’t. And depravity did prevail in this vulgar contribution to the gross-out genre.

Still, I suppose faithful Farrelly fans won’t be disappointed by this bawdy, shock comedy, laced with coarse dialogue, full-frontal nudity, sophomoric slapstick and bodily-function fare. Its highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view) range from a golfer defecating in a sand trap to a black man with gargantuan genitalia going public with his privates. The plot is essentially a series of excuses to celebrate such scatology and debauchery.

Hall Pass unfolds in the Farrellys’ home state of Rhode Island where we find best friends Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) constantly commiserating about their stale sex lives. Soon enough, their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), become so fed up with watching their hubbies salivating over other women that they decide to give them each a “hall pass,” meaning a week of freedom to cheat with no questions asked.

Incredulous about their good fortune, Rick and Fred leap at the opportunity, anticipating that their wildest fantasies are about to come true. However, they prove pretty inept at attracting females, which is no surprise given their reliance on lame pickup lines, like “You must be from Ireland because when I look at you my penis is Dublin.” And their odds of scoring are only further diminished when they invite some pals to tag along, a Greek chorus of losers comprised of morbidly-obese Hog-Head (Larry Joe Campbell), trash-talking Flats (J.B. Smoove) and gawky-looking Gary (Stephen Merchant).

While Rick and Fred are repeatedly striking out with women, the plot thickens when their spouses are suddenly being seduced by ardent admirers out on Cape Cod. Will the guys wise up and beg their neglected wives for forgiveness before any wedding vows are broken?

A change of heart conveniently leads to a sweet resolution that’s really rather implausible, given the previous 90 minutes of misogynistic locker room antics. The tried and true Farrelly formula, if that’s your taste!

Good (2 stars).

Running time: 98 Minutes

127 Hours

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Rated R for profanity, violence and disturbing images.

Traumatic True Tale Of Survival Available On DVD

Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), this harrowing adventure recreates mountain climber Aron Ralston’s (James Franco) real-life ordeal during the spring of 2003 in a desert region of Utah, far removed from civilization. While there for a Saturday hike, the young outdoorsman ended up trapped in a ravine when his arm became pinned to a wall by a dislodged boulder.

Because Aron hadn’t informed anyone of his itinerary before setting off alone, he knew there wouldn’t be any rescue party organized to look for him. In fact, no one even noticed his absence until he failed to show up for work after the weekend.

Initially, the desperate 28-year-old hoped that another climber would come along by chance. But neither his prayers nor bloodcurdling screams were to be answered over the next five days, leaving the unfortunate lad literally stuck between a rock and a hard place in the middle of nowhere.

From about the 15-minute mark virtually right up to the conclusion, this two and a half hour saga basically features Franco delivering a protracted soliloquy. The versatile thespian more than meets the challenge of conveying the gradually deteriorating physical, mental and emotional states of a person forced by circumstances to reflect upon his life, while resigning himself to an untimely demise.

After running out of food and water, we witness Aron using his free hand to carve his name and date of birth into the rock. He also videotapes heartfelt farewells to his friends and family, before he becomes delirious due to dehydration.

Far be it from me to spoil the ending for anyone who never read the newspaper account as it originally appeared in the papers. Suffice to say that when Aron finds himself facing certain death, his only option lies in a proverbial Hobson’s choice as unthinkable as it is gruesome.

What do you get when you let Danny Boyle put his spin on a fact-based cross of Cast Away and Into The Wild? An exhilarating episode of ‘Who Wants to Be a Slumdog Mountaineer?’

Very Good (3 stars).

Running time: 94 Minutes

DVD Extras: Deleted scenes and a feature commentary by director/co-screenwriter Danny Boyle, producer Christian Colson and co-screenwriter Simon Beaufoy.

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

For movies opening March 4, 2011

BIG BUDGET FILMS

The Adjustment Bureau (PG-13 for sexuality, brief profanity and a violent image). Sci-fi thriller about a politician (Matt Damon) frustrated by fate, while pursuing an affair with a ballet dancer (Emily Blunt). Cast includes Anthony Mackie, Lisa Thoreson and Michael Kelly, with cameos by Jon Stewart and Chuck Scarborough.

Beastly (PG-13 for profanity, crudeness, drug references and violence). Modern-day take on Beauty And The Beast reimagined as an urban tale about a school bully (Alex Pettyfer) who finds himself transformed into an ugly monster when a Goth classmate (Mary-Kate Olsen) casts a spell on him. To undo the curse, he must find a woman (Vanessa Hudgens) willing to love him in this hideous state. Cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Rhiannon Moller-Trotter.

Rango (PG for crude humor, mild epithets, action and smoking). Computer-animated adventure about a chameleon (Johnny Depp) who dreams about morphing into the sheriff of an Old West town plagued by bandits. Voice cast includes Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin and Bill Nighy.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Abel (Unrated). Coming-of-age drama, set in Mexico, about a nine-year-old boy (Christopher Ruiz-Esparza) with a vivid imagination who blurs the lines between fantasy and reality when he moves back home after spending a couple of years in a psychiatric ward. With Geraldine Alejandra, Karina Gidi and Gerardo Ruiz-Esparza. (In Spanish with subtitles.)

Bereavement (Unrated). Grisly splatter flick, a prequel to the 2004 slasher saga Malevolence, revolving around a 6-year-old kidnap victim (Spencer List) raised by a serial killer (Brett Rickaby) in an abandoned slaughterhouse, where he is trained to abduct and dismember innocent young women. Cast includes John Savage, Michael Biehn and Alexandra Daddario.

Dear Lemon Lima (PG-13 for profanity and mature themes). Coming-of-age comedy, set in Fairbanks, Alaska, about a 13-year-old girl (Savannah Wiltfong), who comes to embrace the Eskimo half of her heritage after competing in her school’s Snowstorm Survivor competition. Cast includes Melissa Leo, Zane Huett and Shayne Topp.

Ex Drummer (Unrated). Dark comedy about a trio of disabled punk rockers who invite a writer (Dries Van Hegen) without a handicap to join the band, only to have the sadistic newcomer ruin the group’s chemistry. With Norman Baert, Gunter Lamoot and Sam Louwyck. (In Dutch with subtitles.)

HappyThankYouMorePlease (R for profanity). Josh Radnor wrote, directed and stars in this serendipitous, slice-of-life comedy about a six New Yorkers struggling with relationship and career issues. Ensemble includes Malin Akerman, Michael Algieri, Richard Jenkins, Zoe Kazan and Bram Barouh.

The Human Resource Manager (Unrated). Adaptation of A.B. Yehoshua‘s novel, A Woman in Jerusalem, about an Israeli bakery executive’s (Mark Ivanir) efforts to prevent the publication of an article potentially damaging to the company’s reputation, in the wake of an employee’s death during a suicide bombing. Cast includes Rosina Kambus, Guri Alfi and Noah Silver. (In Hebrew, English and Romanian with subtitles.)

I Saw The Devil (Unrated). Revenge thriller about a secret agent (Byung-hun Lee), who decides to take the law into his own hands by slowly torturing the serial killer (Min-sik Choi) who murdered his fiancée. With San-ha Oh, Yoon-seo Kim and Ho-jin Jeon. (In Korean with subtitles.)

Old Cats (Unrated). Dysfunctional family drama, set in Santiago, Chile, about a senile senior citizen’s (Belgica Castro) effort to hide any signs of her deteriorating mental state from a scheming daughter (Claudia Celedon) with designs on control of her finances. With Alejandro Sievking and Catalina Saavedra. (In Spanish with subtitles.)

Take Me Home Tonight (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use). Retro comedy, set in 1988, about an underachieving MIT grad (Topher Grace) working in a video store, who attempts to impress the girl of his dreams (Teresa Palmer) by telling her that he’s an investment banker. With Anna Faris, Michelle Trachtenberg and Dan Fogler.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Unrated). Out-of-body comedy, set in Northeast Thailand, revolving around the deathbed reflections of a terminally-ill, old geezer (Thanapat Saisaymar). With Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee and Natthakarn Aphaiwong.

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