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a higher standard than you would expect
on 17 May 2012
It's been a tough few years for the Farrelly brothers. After arriving on the scene brash and bold with the likes of Dumb And Dumber, and then cementing themselves as the reigning kings of the disgusto-com-meets-sweet-sentiment genre with There's Something About Mary, they'd found their thrones and were unchallenged by other filmmakers. But in recent years those crowns have been slipping. Follow-ups such as Me, Myself & Irene, and Shallow Hal we're ok but didn't really live up to the comedy gold that they were producing in their earlier career.
Now, a few years later, they're back in the comfort zone of goofball man-children and the women they lust after. The concept is a straightforward one and at first this movie seems like it is going to be like a straight to DVD American Pie type film, but it soon turns out that we are going to get treated to some old school Farrelly-style.
It's reliably safe territory for the writer/directors, who make sure to keep both of their leads believable and, to a decent degree, likable as they encounter an assortment of busty babes. And while the friends do get wrapped up in some farcical goings-on, they seem normal compared to their crazier acquaintances including a scene-stealing Stephen Merchant who actually offers most of the big laughs in the film. It's good to see Merchant in a role that has more than one line, and even though he is in a supporting role I can safely say that this film would have easily gone down a few notches on the likability metre if he wasn't in it.
Jenna Fischer is also worth a mention, who, with her mellow vibes, which I can't get enough of, really grounds the film, stops it getting to wacky and going too far into that vulgar and obvious American humour that really turn me off most US comedy films.
Nothing here tops the gross-out heights (or heart) of Mary, and Hall Pass won't prove a revelation for Farrelly fans, but it's a funnier effort than a lot of their recent work, and as a result it is genuinely entertaining rather than horribly tedious.