Bobby Farrelly is one half of the ridiculously-gifted and ostensibly twisted (and I say that endearingly) filmmaking-duo behind close-your-eyes-or-you’ll-wee-yourself-laughing ‘’There’s Something About Mary’’,’’ Kingpin’’, ‘’Me, Myself & Irene’’, ‘’Dumb & Dumber’’ and “Stuck on You”. If you’ve seen any one of those films, or a combination of, you’ll recognize the Farrelly bros as filmmakers that don’t always evoke end-of-film applause; their movies, I guess you’d say, are – for lack of a better word – sick. Me? I like sick. Give me chuck-up comedy soup anyday of the week. Though their latest film “Hall Pass”, the story of two chaps (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) who are granted a week off from their marriage to partake in whatever they want, is as ‘sick’ as everything else the Farrelly’s have done, it’s also rather sweet. That combination of asinine and saccharine worked for their biggest film, “There’s Something About Mary” so brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly are hoping it’ll work again here.
Hello. How are you?
Well, hi, Clint, how are you?
Good, thanks. Now, I can I just say, a hilarious movie. So much so that I got so many stares in the screening last week.
[laughter] Well, thank you.
And look, it was a real surprise package for me, too. I quite frankly wasn’t expecting to laugh this much but this is a real gem.
Well, thanks a lot. You know, we had a great time making this movie. We really did. And we knew that to do it right we had to do two things. We had to tell a nice story but, well, you know, and with a happy ending, it’s about marriage. We didn’t want to be real dark about it but… And at the same time we wanted to have a lot of laughs with the cast and everything. I think we were able to pull it off but…
It was a lot of fun.
You most definitely did. I mean, I think that what works for this one especially for me in terms of your catalog. It’s a great blend of the ridiculous and the sweet and in the same fashion that “There’s Something About Mary” was.
Well, it did feel a lot like “There’s Something About Mary” to us. It just had a very similar feeling to it as we’re making it because we really like all the people involved in it, all the characters, we didn’t want to make it so that the guys are bad guys and the girls are good guys, we sort of made it where you wanted, you know, you like everyone but… And that’s the trick. We didn’t want to make it so black and white where good guys and bad guys. That’s more about just people and did the mistakes they make.
I mean, you’d probably experienced this with all your films but I’m just reading the mixed reviews, some love it… You either love it or you don’t with this one…
Yeah. We never ever think that we’re going to get all good reviews particularly with the outrageous jokes that are in this. They’re definitely like through the… Past… Through the roof type, you know, we went for it. And so when we do that we understand that there are a lot of people who are going to say, “Oh, that’s not funny.” But we watched it with an audience and we know what works for our sensibility, and so we’re making a movie that pushes the envelope further than most, and that I understand other people don’t do that and it’s not for everyone but that’s our sensibility.
Is it harder to top yourself each time with these jokes?
Well, I think of the last few… In our career, we definitely had some movies where we pushed it real far and others where we don’t push it as far. And so we don’t ever feel like we’re trying to top ourselves because we just don’t want to get in that type of game. But in this one, yeah, we definitely have some things in here that probably haven’t been seen before in movies. But that’s actually the easy part. The tough part for us is telling that story beneath it, that sweet story and making that work. And that, believe it or not, that took us a long time to get the script right. We worked on this script for about three or four years before we felt like we had… Before we felt like it had the right balance of… At first it was two-guys centered; the guys ran off and got a hall pass and the girls just kind of sat home and worried. And we realized that wasn’t really working because it just didn’t really give the girls a fair shake. And so it was only when we thought, “Hey, wait a minute. If the guys are getting a hall pass the girls should get one, too.” When we brought them into the story it became a lot better, a lot better movie.
So Pete Jones, of course of “Project Greenlight” fame wrote the script, didn’t he?
He wrote the original script, yeah. It came into our office and somebody had read it and said, “Hey you guys should read this script. It’s really funny.” And my brother, Pete and I did read it and we totally agreed with that that it was a really high-concept idea and really well-executed. So what we did was we kind of got in with Pete and this other guy that we write with, Kevin Barnett, and we all got together and we sort of started rewriting it. And I tell you, it took awhile, it took awhile for us to get all of the elements in place. And that was the trick, it was just, again, balance in the guys and the girls.
In terms of the casting, were you playing mix and match a bit until you got the right combination?
Well, we always wanted to work with Owen because we did like Owen. We think he’s a extraordinarily likable guy and he’s a smart guy. And he saves us as so make us a lot of time trying to set up a guy that you like because there’s something about Owen that you did inherently like. And you can’t teach that. So we love Owen but what we needed to do with him was to make him a little less cool than he usually is in a movie, because we don’t want to make it so if he gets a hall pass it’s like, “Well, of course, he’s going to be able to chase girls.” Owen is that kind of guy, he get the girls to like him. So we had to kind of make him more suburban and a little dorkier than the people were used to seeing him. And I gave him credit for embracing that, but he did a nice job with that.
So once we had him we’re figuring out who do we put in the other roles, and we didn’t know too much about Jason Sudeikis except that he was on a good TV show back home, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Saturday Night Live, and he was funny on that. But he really surprised us on exactly how funny he is. I think he’s got a big career ahead of him. And the two lead girls were both just delightful girls and they seemed like the perfect pair to be the wives of these two guys, Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer. So we’re very, very happy with the cast. It was maybe the best ensemble we’ve ever worked with.
Yes. It’s a great, great cast. I mean do you approach… Do you ever get actors turning you down based on some of the ridiculous jokes in it like, “Oh, my God, I can’t do this. Bye-bye.”?
We got actors turning us down all the time, you know. And I don’t know what they say, “Oh, I can’t do that,” because of the ridiculous jokes but whatever reason they… Yeah, we get turned down all the time. And that’s okay because that’s just how it is and how it should be. It ‘s like we don’t really ever get who we initially thought we’re going to get, but at the same time, it seems like we get the person who was right for the role. So, we kind of just open it up and let fate takes its hands.
Play its hands.
Is there someone that you’ve wanted to work with that you’re still trying to get in there?
Well, the guys that we like to work with are really good actors, and not necessarily comic actors, you know. We do comedies but we never just think, “Oh, we’re going to get such and such comedian in here.” We always think, “Hey, let’s get a really good actor. He’ll be able to do it.” So, some of the guys that we have said that about, that we haven’t had the chance to work with yet include, I would say, include Russell Crowe and, you know, Johnny Depp’s of the world. Those kinds of guys who are really just fantastic actors, and we’d love to put them in a comedy, you know, and hopefully one day we’ll be able to.
So, you like the Aussies because I heard you were looking at Shane Jacobson for “The Three Stooges” roles at one stage.
Yeah, we definitely were. We do like the Aussies. My favorite movie of this past year was the “Animal Kingdom” movie.
I just absolutely love that. And so, yes. Somebody had told me about it. And you know it didn’t get wide release over in the United States but I got the chance to see it. I just thought it was fantastic. And the girl who was nominated for the Oscar, Jacki…
Jacki Weaver, yeah.
She was fantastic. I would hope that she wins. I don’t know if she will just because… I don’t think enough people saw it.
But she was fantastic. And Shane, yeah, he came highly recommended to us, too. And we are taking a look at him. We haven’t casted yet but he is one of the guys that we’re in the mix for sure.
Yeah. He is great. Speaking of, so is Richard Jenkins…
[Laughs] Well, you know, any time we start a movie, I personally think, “Where the heck will we put Rickard Jenkins?” Because I love Richard Jenkins. I just think he’s funny. We know he is a great actor, too. But in this one we think, “Where will we put Jenkins? Where will we put Jenkins?” And we’d written this role for Coakley, the guy who would never get married. And then we thought, “Hey, do you think Jenkins can play that?” And then also we started thinking about, “Of course, he can. It would be perfect for him.” We sent it to him, he was like, “I’m totally… This is like the furthest thing from my mind, you know, that I would be playing this guy.” We said, “Look, you played the visitor, you can do this guy.” “All right, I’ll do it.” And he nailed it.
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Will Richard be in “The Three Stooges” movie?
Well, as we start that, I’m going to ask the same question, “Where are we going to put Richard?” [laughter] We do have a spot in mind for him but we have, again, we haven’t casted so I don’t know. I hope we do. But a lot of it has to do with if the guy is available and that sort of thing. But I hope he is.
That’s your next film, isn’t it, “The Three Stooges”?
Yes, yes. Richard, by the way, will not be one of the three stooges. I could tell you that. But there’s a lot of other good roles that we’d love to get him in. And that is our next movie. We’re actually in pre-production with it already, yes. We’ll be filming probably in about two months.
Great. So, is this going to be again like “Hall Pass”, you know, some sweet and silly nice combination or…
Well, you know with “The Three Stooges”, we’ll be very… We’ll probably be a lot less typical Farelly brothers stuff. We’re going to be as true as we can to the spirit of “The Three Stooges”. And they weren’t raunchy and they weren’t like outrageous. They were extraordinarily funny but it was just that kind of slapstick, the almost vaudeville-type humor. We’re going to do what we can do to recapture that. And so, it will probably be like I said, less us more of them.
Sounds great. Looking at your catalog here, is there anything in there that you wanted to come back and sequelize?
Well, the one that we hear so many people, you know, kids kind of… The generation of kids sort of seen over and over and over is “Dumb and Dumber”.
And we are just like… It just had run a lot of times on TV back in the States. I’m not sure if it did over here as much, but kids will come up and be able to quote lines from that that I’ve long forgotten. So there’s something about that one where I think it’s… Maybe if we got those two guys back together, Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels, that might be a worthwhile sequel.
And I… So, we actually have… That ball’s in motion. We’re starting to think about what those two dimwits would be doing. [chuckle]
Basically, 20 years later in life and hopefully, I will be able to come up with something that’s worthy of a sequel. But, so far, yeah, no sequels for us. We don’t want to get caught into that “telling the same story twice”, that routine and that’s what a lot of sequels are. And so, we just haven’t done it yet.
No. Totally. Well, thank you so much for making fresh original movies that aren’t sequels. And…
Thank you, Clint.
Yeah, “Hall Pass” might just be the funniest film I’ve seen in a couple of years. So, I can’t wait to check it out again.
[laughter] Well, thanks a lot, Clint. I really appreciate it that. Happy you liked it.