Those "There's Something About Mary" Farrelly Brothers try to get their edge back with "Hall Pass," a rude and seriously crude riff on taking a vacation from marriage.
But as they get older, they're having more and more trouble balancing the sentimental with the outrageously vulgar. They've made a mature comedy about immature men acting immaturely. It's "The Hangover" without that movie's sucker punches.
"Hall Pass" is about husbands who talk about sex too much, fantasize too often and share all this adolescent behavior with each other and with their long-suffering wives.
"Driving in a car with you is like riding with a horny bobble head," Maggie (Jenna Fischer) complains to her ever-ogling spouse, Rick (Owen Wilson).
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Rick's pal is the even cruder Fred (Jason Sudeikis), a 16-year-old in a 40ish insurance agent's body. He's the sort of guy who drops the "Get any action last night?" question on one and all. Fred's foul mouth, overheard as he and Rick talk dirty and dirtier, gets them both in hot water.
Acting on the advice of therapist Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar, with nothing funny to play), Maggie and Fred's wife, Grace (Christina Applegate), decide to bestow upon them a one-week "hall pass" from marriage. Go out, tear it up, get it out of your systems, they say. And behind their backs, they're thinking their men are "domesticated cats, scratching at the door." Let them out, and they'll find out what the real world is like for a single man at 40.
As Rick and Fred round up their admiring poker buddies (dullards) to watch them cruise the nearest Providence, R.I., Applebee's, they realize quickly that they're remembering their single days through rose-colored glasses. Fred trots out weary pick-up lines.
"Do you know how much a polar bear weighs?"
"Enough to break the ice. Hi, my name's Fred!"
The guys binge on ribs and beer and doze off, while their wives are tempted by members of a minor league baseball team. Fischer is ultra-frumpy in the early scenes but progressively prettier as the film goes along.
The Farrellys, working from a script they co-wrote with others, make sentimental-about-love points in between their usual toilet jokes, full frontal nudity and incredibly coarse come-ons.
Rick and Fred have trouble stepping up to the plate, even when the flirty babysitter (Alexandra Daddario) and the Aussie "java babe" (Nicky Whelan) make their intentions known. That's when the boys' old pal, serial womanizer Coakley gets back into town. The one-time Oscar nominee the Farrellys cast in that role is the best joke and funniest performer in the movie.
Wilson officially ages out of his "dude" years with this middle-aged role. He let himself go physically and seems to have lost his fastball, comically.
Which has long been true of the Farrellys.