March 21, 2011

The Wives Have Their "Hall Pass" Too in New Comedy

Initially conceived as a tale in which two husbands score a week off from marriage while their mates anxiously await developments, Warner Bros.’ new comedy “Hall Pass” took another twist as filmmakers the Farrelly Brothers delved further into the story and characters. Now, in addition to tracking Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) on their seven-day bender, the story takes a look at what might happen if Maggie (Jenna Fisher) and Grace (Christina Applegate) assumed the same freedom.

“It has to go both ways. That’s key to unlocking the story, making it fair and opening it up for everyone,” says Peter Farrelly. Not only fair, but, as Bradley Thomas points out, more honest. “If you make a movie about two guys who get a hall pass while their wives are sitting at home, hoping and praying they don’t do anything, that’s just baloney. It’s not real. I’m sure that if these two guys are looking at other women, then other guys are checking out their wives, too.”

To allow Rick and Fred some space for the week, as well as themselves, the women head out of town to Maggie’s parents’ home in Cape Cod. Two days later, tanned and relaxed in the stands at a Minor League baseball game, Grace attracts the flattering attention of Gerry, a confident, young hard-bodied first baseman, played by Tyler Hoechlin, while Grace is approached by the team’s suave coach, coincidentally named Rick, played by Bruce Thomas.

It’s not till the guys ask them out for a beer that Maggie and Grace understand that this hall pass could be printed on both sides…

“For Maggie, the story becomes about her own complacency in the marriage,” offers Jenna Fischer. “After she grants her husband a week off because she thinks it’s what he wants, she realizes that she’s also been feeling a little restless. Then she meets a man who’s willing to help her cash in a hall pass of her own.

“Owen and I really focused on the dynamic of Maggie and Rick’s relationship so that when the complications arise, they carry some weight. I think you have to believe that these two people are really meant to be together,” Fischer continues. “It’s one of the reasons why I responded to the script.”

If Maggie is looking for moral support at this crucial juncture, Grace is no help. “Grace is the voice in her head beckoning her to the dark side,” says Christina Applegate.

In fact, it’s Grace who makes the valid point that if Rick and Fred are taking the week off, then she and Maggie are likewise single—and should behave accordingly. Says Applegate, “The way Grace sees it, it should be tit for tat. The best way to get back at her husband is to do the same thing he’s doing. This 22-year-old specimen tickles her fancy and she’s tempted to make a big mistake. Grace is frustrated that things have come to this, and when you’re frustrated you don’t always make the right choices.”

By throwing the wives into the breach along with their husbands, “Hall Pass” not only doubles the story’s comedic possibilities but raises the emotional stakes.

“While they’re away, the women sort of rediscover their own youth. When these guys are hitting on them, at first they think, ‘It’s okay, we’ll just go to the barbeque with them,’ but then things start to heat up unexpectedly,” says Bobby Farrelly.

“Rather than just a fantasy about having a hall pass,” Applegate concludes, “it becomes a story about working to be sure your relationship is sustainable for the rest of your life. There are a lot of broad moments, and crazy guys doing crazy things, but it’s also people working through a situation, which allows for some beautiful and heartfelt moments.”

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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