Those There's Something About Mary Farrelly brothers try to get their edge back with Hall Pass, a rude and crude riff on taking a vacation from marriage.
But as they get older, they have more and more trouble balancing the sentimental with the outrageously vulgar. 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 their adolescent behavior with one another and their long-suffering wives.
"Driving in a car with you is like riding with a horny bobblehead," Maggie (Jenna Fischer, The Office) complains to her ever-ogling spouse, Rick (Owen Wilson).
Rick's pal is even cruder Fred (Jason Sudeikis), a 16-year-old in a 40-ish insurance agent's body. He 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), bestow on them a one-week "hall pass" from marriage. Go out, get it out of your systems, they say. Behind their backs, they're thinking their men are "domesticated cats, scratching at the door." Let them 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 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 players on a minor league baseball team. Fischer is ultra-frumpy in the early scenes but gets progressively prettier.
The Farrellys, working from a script they wrote with others, make sentimental-about-love points among their usual toilet jokes, masturbation gags, frontal nudity and coarse come-ons.
Rick and Fred have trouble stepping up, even when the flirty baby sitter (Alexandra Daddario) and the Aussie "java babe" (Nicky Whelan) make their intentions known. That's when the boys' old pal, the serial womanizer Coakley (Richard Jenkins), gets back into town. The onetime Oscar nominee is the best joke and funniest performer in the movie.
Wilson ages out of his "dude" years with this middle-age role. He let himself go physically and seems to have lost his fastball comically.
As have the Farrellys. With Judd Apatow and others pushing comic boundaries beyond the Something About Mary hair-gel joke, they're left to put penises in uncomfortable places and projectile diarrhea in the middle of a seduction. That, and a gunplay-and-melodrama finale, reek of desperation. There's no Hall Pass that excuses them from that.