The Farrelly Brothers, Owen Wilson Reconsider the Chick Flick in 'Hall Pass'
Brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly realize that a Hall Pass – a mutually accepted break from the vows of monogamous marriage – might have disastrous results in real life.
But as the basis for their new comedy, starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as suburban husbands with wandering eyes but a laughable lack of game, it seemed originally to be just another boys-night-out frolic.
Then, as they do with all their movies (including Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary), they showed a preliminary script to their wives. They are thankful they did.
“One of the early problems with the movie was that the guys got the hall pass in the beginning and the women just bit their fingernails and waited,” says Peter, 54. “That didn’t work. My wife read it and she said, ‘I hate these women.’ I was like, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Because if you get a hall pass, I’m getting a hall pass.’ [She was] literally angry with me. So … we rethought it.”
Pass, which opened Friday, was revised to give women their due. “Our wives play a big part in [the filmmaking process],” says Bobby, 52. “They’re very honest with us.
“After that, the studio is always thinking about the audience. They want to make sure it’s not going be just for the guys and not for the girls. But I would give most of the credit to our wives.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise about the movie, in which the men get the freedom they think they desire and then have no idea what to do with it, is that their women, played by Jenna Fischer (Pam, of NBC’s The Office) and Christina Applegate (Married... with Children), get to have all the fun.
Even so, Fischer, 36, isn’t remotely sold on the concept of a hall pass. (“It’s a terrible idea,” she says, incredulous that anyone could think otherwise. “Don’t do it!”) Sudeikis, 35, is more circumspect.
“I do believe in the idea of love, marriage and monogamy,” he says. “But marriage is in an interesting place, with the high divorce rate, people talking about the sanctity of gay marriage and all this rampant cheating going on -- with Tiger Woods and the Internet and [former Republican Congressman] Chris Lee.
“A hall pass doesn’t necessarily answer any questions. It only answers one for the characters [in the movie].”
Whether a hall pass has any practical applications beyond the premise of a raunchy comedy is debatable, but, as Wilson notes, the movie itself is much more Mystic Pizza – which the Farrellys told him was an offhand inspiration – than Jack-Ass.
Peter doesn’t argue the point, though he would probably acknowledge that Pizza (1988) didn’t feature the scatological gags littered through Pass. “This is a guy concept, but the women win,” says Peter. “Ultimately, it’s a chick flick." He's hoping the chicks will agree.