Going into Hall Pass, the latest Farrelly brothers comedy, I was prepared for gross-out humor, full-frontal nudity, and some new sexual slang. And I got it.
But the same men responsible for Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary also offer some interesting insight into long-term relationships. I'm not saying they've earned YourTango Expert status, but there's some food for thought in that soup of gags and groans.
The movie follows two suburban couples who are friends. Rick (Owen Wilson) and Maggie (Jenna Fischer) have been together since college and have three young children. Fred (Jason Sudeikis) and Grace (Christina Applegate) are childless, but have the same trappings of a long-term marriage. No one's unhappy, per se, but there's a predictable routine. We don't witness their sex lives, because neither couple has much of one anymore.
At an event for their friend, a pop psychologist named Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar), the women watch their husbands checking out every woman around. They've seen this behavior before and though they joke that guys will be guys, Maggie's hurt. She's excited to get home and put the kids down for some alone time with Rick, but ends up pretending to be asleep. Later, she confesses to her friends that she worried her husband would fantasize about other women while having sex with her. His Wandering Eye. What Does It Mean?
That's when Dr. Lucy mentions the hall pass. Why not give Rick a week off of marriage to re-live his single days, no questions asked? The psychologist says the practice revived her own marriage. Both Maggie and Grace end up going through with the plan and decide to leave town with the kids for the trial. The men are elated and ready to live it up.
Of course, Maggie and Grace know their husbands aren't that slick—these guys aren't going to roll up to the club in their minivans and khakis and make the chicks swoon. But Maggie is especially worried about the experiment backfiring. Would this taste of freedom make Rick hungry for more? Things become even more complicated when she and Grace take the kids out of town for the week, and both women are tempted by sexy single men who know the hall pass works both ways.
You'll have to see Hall Pass in theaters to see the outcome. But the more interesting part of the premise is something we don't see. Provided a relationship survives the hall pass, how would a couple interact in the months after taking a short break from monogamy? Would time apart make them more grateful for the dependable perks of a long-term relationship—security, companionship and trust, to name a few—or more desiring of breaks from each other? 5 Open Marriage Myths