March 6, 2011

The Farrelly Brothers Push the Comedic Envelope in "Hall Pass"


Hall Pass -- one week off from marriage to do whatever you want, no questions asked. That’s what best buddies Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) get from their wives in New Line Cinema’s outrageous comedy “Hall Pass” written and directed by the Farrelly Brothers (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Shallow Hal”).

In the film, Rick and his buddy Fred consider themselves average, maybe even above-average, husbands. Easygoing, dependable and gainfully employed, they’re the kind of guys who aren’t averse to pitching in with the household chores now and then, or stopping by the dry cleaner’s… the kind of guys who wouldn't dream of cheating on their wives.


Well, actually they would. Not cheat on them, necessarily, but dream about it. Every single day. With every woman they see.

“Rick is happily married, with kids and a wife he loves. He has a good job, a nice existence but, like a lot of men, he can’t help noticing women and this irritates his wife,” says co-director Peter Farrelly. The Farrellys also share screenwriting credit with Pete Jones and Kevin Barnett. Together, they felt that this eminently relatable scenario was ripe for some frank and irreverent exploration.

“The first thing that struck me about the story was how much comic potential it had. It’s a universal theme. If God came to me and said, ‘Pete, you’re with the hottest woman on the planet, she’s the best and there’s no one better,’ I’d probably still want to take a look at the second-best,” Peter admits. “Even if you’re happily married and committed, it doesn’t mean you stop looking. The question is how far do you take it?”

Owen Wilson, who stars as the easily distracted suburban dad, Rick, agrees. “Most guys can’t help noticing a good-looking woman walk by, but some of them do a better job at being subtle about it. With others, like Rick, it’s like they have their heads on a swivel.”

One of the ideas behind “Hall Pass” is that men—and women, too—are just hard-wired to look. And occasionally, they may also wonder. What if I wasn’t married? What could I be doing now? And with whom? Being a Farrelly brothers comedy, such probing philosophic questions are bound to lead down some dangerously slippery slopes.

Says Bobby Farrelly, “A lot of people joke about the seven-year itch and this is sort of an updated version of that. When you’re dealing with the sacred institution of marriage, you’re playing with fire, so we knew we had to handle it just right. But we weren’t afraid of tackling the subject and we certainly weren’t going to hold back on any of the jokes or the temptations…or anything else. If we think it’s funny, Pete and I will go for it. We love pushing the envelope.”

“‘Hall Pass’ is absolutely a comedy,” adds screenwriter Pete Jones. “But you never lose sight of the fact that there are consequences to what these characters do.”

Opening soon across the Philippines, “Hall Pass” is a New Line Cinema presentation to be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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