At least not males with any self-respect.
Director: Farrelly brothers
Guy without confidence #1: Owen Wilson
Guy without confidence #2: Jason Sudeikis
Wife #1: Jenna Fischer
Wife #2: Christina Applegate
Attractive babysitter: Alexandra Daddario
Attractive barista: Nicky Whelan
Douchey dude who gets ladies: Richard Jenkins
Wilson and Sudeikis are married to Fischer and Applegate (respectively). The first part of the movie introduces their lives (ordinary suburban white collar) and the problem: guys don't appreciate their wives because they think their wives are holding them back. A lack of sex is the superficial problem, a lack of passion the root (and this passionlessness permeates the entire movie--I found it nigh impossible to care for any of the characters because they're all generic/shallow/half-formed).
Nothing remarkable occurs in this part. The women are portrayed as smarter than their husbands, the husbands as thinking they're smarter than their wives. Some silly dialogue. Some comical (but terribly subdued) back and forth between Wilson and Sudeikis when they find themselves separated from a group that was touring a rich "friend's" mansion, mocking the friend's possessions, family, and life.
Throughout the movie, the jokes do not build to a crescendo. Events build to a joke, the joke is made and the scene ends (often abruptly with a cut to a new day or a different character).
The premise of the movie is that Wilson and Sudeikis are given a week's reprieve from marriage (and thus can sleep with any one they want). The women do this because they're told by an older friend that the "hall pass" saved her marriage, that her husband didn't act on it and learned that he truly loved her. In the movie, this is called foreshadowing. In a review, it's called "a spoiler".
The film introduces some of the typical male fantasies:
-the sexy babysitter (aged 21),
-the sexy server (a barista),
-the bombshell that's totally out of your league but seems to actually be hitting on you (also the barista),
-the foreign hottie (also the barista),
-the happy ending at the massage parlor,
-the pick-up at the club,
Then, one by one, it castrates each desire.
The babysitter is willing, but Wilson denies her on the grounds that it's morally wrong.
At the massage parlor, Sudeikis refuses to fill out a standard form, insists on not filling out the form, demands he is allowed to just tell the front-desk girl what he wants, proceeds to whisper dirty things, then is humiliated as the girl pulls back a faux-wall to reveal a laundromat full of people (including smirking teenagers and the wife of the rich friend) and tells the manager there (who implicitly doubles as the massage parlor manager) Sudeikis is asking for a rub & tug and to tea bag.
The divorcée finds Sudeikis disgusting and denies him immediately.
Sudeikis picks up a girl at a club but she turns out to be really fucking weird, allergic to nicotine patches, and prone to sharting (the customary gross out joke).
In the climactic scene, the bombshell barista from Australia has Wilson in a bedroom and is topless. She begins to undress Wilson and kiss him on the chest. This is the moment Wilson realizes he loves his wife more than anything, tells the barista "no", and explains why with an original (yet cliche in how hard it's trying to be original) story about a special moment with his wife and kids that serves to once again prove that this character is a good guy.
The film is making the case that the alternatives to marriage are not as good as they appear, that despite what men think, they should be happy with what they have and try to make it work. So, of course, Wilson and Sudeikis end up back with their wives, apologizing for all the wrong they have done. The closing scene proves that a calm married life is...better than the alternative.
This would be fine if Wilson and Sudeikis weren't so inept. The only redeeming quality between them is Wilson's honesty. Except that Wilson is honest to every person except his wife. To her, he is proper/polite/standard (until it's time to make a gushing speech about how much he loves her, then he's vulnerable). The same goes for Sudeikis. Both men are too scared to be themselves in front of their wives. This fear is a core trait of both guys and it's the reason why nothing exciting happens in the movie.
There are only two courageous moments. The first is when Wilson tongue-lashes the male co-worker of the hot barista who had been mocking Wilson for hitting on the girl. The barista hears this and actively pursues Wilson (note: she pursues him). When Wilson denies her, I do not believe it's because he actually loves his wife and kids (though he really might): it's because he's a coward.
The second moment is when Sudeikis tells the babysitter's 40-something year old aunt that he's Rick (Wilson) in order to sleep with her.
So two dinky courageous moments and the first happens only because Wilson thinks the girl isn't listening, and the second is total duplicity.
There are many macho films that affirm the virility of the male sex (Rocky, Terminator, Wedding Crashers, Cool Runnings, etc. etc. etc.) and plenty that assert females as equal to men/more capable than (Terminator, Alien, Charlie's Angels, Pirates of the Caribbean). This movie is the opposite of those. The characters are flaccid.*
"You mean just the men, right? Not the women?"
The women too.
Because there's no reason for the women to take the men back (okay, Wilson and Fischer have kids). As far as I can tell, there's no reason for these people to be married to begin with. There's no shared vulnerability, no honesty, no obvious love--all we see is tolerance, annoyance, axienty. Even though Wilson talks about how much he loves his kids, the kids have no role in the movie (they only make appearances early on as tools for cock-blocking Wilson and Fischer). So the love is generic: they're his kids, of course he loves them. Likewise, the viewer isn't shown that Wilson loves Fischer and Fischer loves Wilson, it's assumed because they're husband and wife (same with Sudeikis and Applegate). Why are they together?
If anyone will enjoy this movie it's women, because the film shows all men as incapable, frightened, and totally dependent on women.
There are three exceptions.
One: The guys' friend Coakley who is a middle-aged club rat that throws major parties at his house and travels the world banging women (despite looking super strange).
Two: the minor league baseball player that Applegate sleeps with then tries to let down easy (because she thinks he's falling for her). This guy laughs at her, calls her old, tells her she's awesome at sex, gives her a high five, then says he has to go to a players meeting and leaves.
Three: the minor league baseball coach that is hitting on Fischer. He is shown as nice, bold, funny, and capable; and Fischer flirts with him, hangs out with him, and, when he makes a move, totally rejects him.
This is another reason women will like this movie: Fischer and Applegate have desirable guys crawling all over them from the first day of the hall pass.
Because Wilson and Sudeikis are such weak characters, the ultimate lesson of the film ("marriage is your only hope") will fall on deaf ears for any guy with a shred of confidence. Wilson and Sudeikis ruin their hall pass via fear and stupidity born of fear. The film wants us to believe Wilson and Sudeikis are "everymen" and they're not. It wants to tell men "you think you got it, but you don't" but what it actually says is "our characters are idiots". And that's the problem. Had it not attempted to preach, to take a moral position and show one belief as right and another as wrong--if it had instead simply writhed in the foolishness of its characters and let us watch--the film would have worked. Wedding Crashers did this well. Crashers didn't judge Wilson and Vince Vaughn for sleeping around. It didn't punish them. It put them in a position where they could either keep crashing or settle down with women they had connected with and fallen in love with.
Hall Pass serves to reinforce the idea that you're stuck with what you've got, deal with it.
Did I Like It:No. I wanted to turn it off every thirty seconds or so. Personality Ratios:Seriously, I don't care.
What It's Good For:
-some jokes hit.
-for girls: watching the guys fail.
-for guys: seeing the barista topless.
-the blatant product placement.
-the cowardice of the main guys-seeing Sudeikis crash and burn so hard
By the Farrelly brothers: Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There's Something About Mary (their first three movies: everything else disproportionately terrible)
By Wilson: Wedding Crashers, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Starsky and Hutch (though not by much), Behind Enemy Lines, Zoolander, Meet the Parents
By Sudeikis: Hopefully "Horrible Bosses"
By Fischer: Solitary Man, Blades of Glory, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,
By Applegate: Anchorman, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead, Mars Attacks