In the first Farrelly Brothers comedy for four years, restless husbands Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are granted a "hall pass" by their long-suffering wives. It's a week of freedom for the boys who never really grew up to do whatever they want... with no questions asked. But seven days off the leash brings its own problems. Stephen Merchant joins the fray as a bawdy ex-pat in a rumbustious comedy that delivers frat-boy humour by the pants-full.
Ladies, what would you do if your middle-aged husband's roving eye for passing younger hotties was beginning to become a bit more than an eye-raising annoyance?
- Engage the services of a relationship counsellor to thrash out hubby's lingering nostalgia for a time when he was fancy-free while putting your marriage back on track?
- Dismiss his infatuation as the dying throes of a thrusting youth and dismiss his ogling as a phase of a mid-life crisis that will inevitably fizzle out?
- Give him a no-strings week off his marriage to do exactly as he pleases, including whatever temptations the fairer - and younger - sex may throw at him?
In a decision that sets women's equality back a thousand years, married numbskulls Maggie (Fischer) and Grace (Applegate) go for option 3 in the deluded belief that this will strengthen rather than fracture their marital bond.
The two chipper chaps granted a "Hall Pass" are Rick (Wilson), a dim-witted estate agent and father-of-two who figures the laydeez will fall at his feet and Fred (Sudeikis), a charisma-free boor who you feel was lucky to have snagged Applegate in the first place.
For seven days (although it feels like months) they regress to a frat-boy nirvana of beer, burgers, more beer, golf and a lot of babe talk with their buddies, including a bizarrely cast Stephen Merchant as a game British ex-pat.
It's been four years since the lacklustre The Heartbreak Kid and times have moved on. Compared with a contemporary comedy arc that takes in everyone from Judd Apatow to Armando Iannucci, the Farrellys appear very much yesterday's dirty old men.
Where once the dialogue (There's Something About Mary) had a zinging vitality here every line falls flat, a state of affairs the brothers remedy with an inevitable gag featuring defecation.
This is bad enough...but when they start shovelling life lessons down your throat - Maggie realising like, er, it was she who wanted a Hall Pass - it's the audiences' turn to gag.
Strangely, the best sequence in the film features Merchant's character... but is relegated to the closing credits. Now that is funny.