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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.16%
Worth A Look: 26.55%
Pretty Bad: 17.7%
Total Crap: 9.73%

6 reviews, 77 user ratings

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Shallow Hal
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by Scott Weinberg

"First we push Fatty down. Then we expect you to cry."
2 stars

I'm a Pepsi/Coke addict. Whenever I'm watching movies or sitting in front of my computer (IE- Any time I'm not asleep) you'll find an ice cold soda right next to me. Once in a while, my 2-liter supply runs low, and I'm forced to ADD EXTRA ICE to the soda to make it last through the night. That's exactly what Shallow Hal is: There's Something About Mary, with about 6 trays of ice cubes.

After making a name for themselves as the modern kings of cinematic scatology, the Farrelly Brothers now wanna switch gears and make sweety nice-nice romantic comedies. The ones with all the insipid misunderstandings and ridiculous plot twists. (Basically, anything starring Meg Ryan). But since we ARE dealing with the Farrellys, you can expect the sweety nice-nice romance stuff to (of course) be tempered with outrageously ugly jokes about handicapped people, physical deformities and stilted slapstick violence. Shallow Hal is You've Got Mail combined with The Klumps. If that sounds like a good time to you, welcome to your new favorite movie.

Ah, the fat suit. Is there any other existing comedy prop so desperately in need of retirement? We've come so far as a society that we appropriately turn away from black-face racial comedy, yet we all giggle for the fat suit. Yay. Since poking fun at an actual obese person would be cruel, Hollywood now allows us to mock the corpulent simply by adding 200 pounds to the mantis-like frame of a Gwyneth Paltrow.

The hero (?) of the flick is Hal, who is shallow. After being hypnotized into seeing the "inner beauty" of all women, Hal falls madly in love with Rosemary, who is a massive (yet typically sweet) woman. (That this movie assumes all unattractive women are smart, sweet and funny is only one of the unwelcome broad strokes.) Hilarity is meant to ensue, as everyone but Hal sees Rosemary as the dangerously fat woman she really is. The shoddy script takes great pains to include all the derogatory terms for 'overweight' imaginable.

Once again: Hal sees Rosemary as skinny, while everyone else sees her as...not. If that's not clever enough, keep an eye out for several scenes in which furniture crumbles under Rosemary's gigantic frame. Man, that's good comedy. But wait, we're not really laughing at fat people, because the audience sees her as skinny! A revolution in back-handed compliments.

Needless to say, the unpleasant and unfunny barbs are all meant to be negated at the end, when Hal somehow manages to (GASP!) love a fat girl. Rarely has a movie been so depressingly hypocritical about the subject it's trying to champion. (The concept of beauty being only skin deep is referred to several times, yet is buried under the unrelentingly unpleasant parade of "rhino" gags.) One of the more misplaced subplots involves a ward full of "burned children", whom Hal of course sees as angelic and beautiful. Not only does this subplot have NO place in a movie like Shallow Hal, but I doubt it would successfully work in any movie.

In small doses, Jack Black is a wonderfully entertaining guy. In movies like High Fidelity and The Jackal, Black adds a bizarre little spark to the proceedings and almost any film is improved by his presence. Having said that, Jack Black is most definitely NOT leading-man material. Perhaps it's just that the screenplay is lighter than helium, but Black often seems lost or confused, improvising most of the time. Oscar-darling Gwyneth Paltrow fares somewhat better in her early scenes (as skinny Rosemary), somehow managing to capture the body English and downbeat humor of the large-carriaged woman. In possibly his worst performance ever (and yes, I've seen Dunston Checks In) is Jason Alexander as Hal's even shallower friend Mauricio. Sporting a felt-like hairpiece and some truly unpleasant...appendages, Alexander rants and raves and spews line after line of unfunny swill. If you'd never seen an episode of Seinfeld, you might think Alexander is talentless.

To be fair, there are a handful of laughs to be found throughout the movie. It's just unfortunate that they have to be mired in such a clumsy, labored and basically dull comedy. The Farrelly Brothers are obviously at their best when they're trying to be offensive. When they switch their skills into reverse and try to be sweet, the result is infinitely more insulting.

I can't remember the last time a movie tried so hard to have it both ways; it's tough to mercilessly mock someone for laughs while asking the audience to feel pity at the same time. For those looking for the machine-gun paced gags of Mary or Dumb & Dumber, I'd recommend renting Mary or Dumb & Dumber. Watered down Farrely is about as tasty as watered down Pepsi.

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originally posted: 11/25/01 14:48:08
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User Comments

8/29/12 roscoe fair, but hardly funny. black is likeable, not funny. highlight is alexander's co-star role 3 stars
1/17/11 JM Synth Watchable but misguided and confused, not to mention sappy and low on jokes 2 stars
4/28/10 art SHALLOW is RIGHT! 1 stars
8/04/09 the dork knight Overly-complicated misfire. Paltrow sells her performance at the end. 3 stars
6/14/09 Dane Youssef Not just one long fat joke. Not just one spoon-fed trite moral. Hilarious, deep & heartfelt 4 stars
8/17/08 John Millheim I guess I could say its funny, but I am not going to, boring 2 stars
6/30/08 Jeff Anderson Surprisingly sweet & one of the Farrelly Bros. best in recent years. Paltrow is very good. 5 stars
4/02/08 Robbie Great movie funny and has great morals in it as well 5 stars
3/08/08 Pamela White Wonderful movie of how people are judged 5 stars
12/10/07 Witch Hazel Good film but hypocritical about its own message. 3 stars
11/04/07 David Cohen Not bad, but can't live up to its own pretentions 3 stars
7/06/07 mrsinister Even Jack Black disowned it! 2 stars
6/01/07 ES It's inconsistent as the rules associated with his condition are very unclear, but still ok 4 stars
2/16/07 johnnyfog Just because it has a positive message, doesn't make it good 2 stars
11/04/06 becky it tries to be funny, but succeeds only in showing how we all are shallow 2 stars
12/14/05 Ginger Great movie, very funny and sweet! 5 stars
8/18/05 John Aster Habig Jack Black is as always funny but the surprise is a Farrelly movie w/heart 5 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig Really wonderful film about where value really is found. Black was great 5 stars
10/11/04 Dan Funny, Emotional, Entertaining....good movie. 4 stars
9/19/04 crystal it's quite sweet~ 4 stars
2/20/04 Dr. lecter The most predictable movie ever made 2 stars
1/25/04 Rapunzel Gladstone Jason Alexander a riot? Too bad he married Britney Spears! 3 stars
10/20/03 Phil M. Aficionado Fun to watch despite its several flaws Fluff, with a few laughs. 3 stars
10/07/03 JohnnyXXX Not stupid at all. It's funny, lighthearted. Don't be so uptight!! 4 stars
4/19/03 Jack Sommersby Not a laugh to be found. Godawful. 1 stars
2/20/03 Dave Good moral mesage and some moderately funny moments, but the rest is very predictable. 3 stars
2/17/03 Yaris Roshenko Whadyaknow? Gwyneth Paltrow's first movie in which she doesn't think her shit don't stink. 4 stars
2/01/03 Paul Coleman Simple minded yet fun and entertaining. One of those 'feel good' movies. 4 stars
1/30/03 NWO4LIFE extremely likeable, sweet movie. Jason Alexander is a riot. 4 stars
1/27/03 Kool-Aid-Drunk Love Rosey's so fat, when kids cry, "Hey Kool-Aid Woman!" Will Hal go Barry Egan on 'em? 4 stars
1/22/03 Pinkline Jones Gwyneth is fine. Movie interesting but pretty silly too.. 4 stars
12/30/02 John Aster Habig Dry and intelligent, crazy and zany the romcom of my generation 5 stars
9/20/02 Interesting concept, but it was kinda hippocritical in making fun of "fat people" 3 stars
8/18/02 scott stupid but still really funny 5 stars
8/14/02 Danielle Ophelia Hollywood's standard cliche of fat person = living target. Had spark, but no real heart. 3 stars
8/13/02 Fish Eye Better than I thought. Good story, had a point, and it was funny. 4 stars
8/06/02 Bill Shallow Hal is boring and dull. 2 stars
8/03/02 Yaris Roshenko Whadyaknow? Gwyneth Paltrow's first movie in which she doesn't think her shit don't stink. 4 stars
7/27/02 Punk_Ass Nothing over the top but funny and has a message. Could have been a lot worse, and better 4 stars
7/12/02 KMG First of all JACK sucks ASS...second of all this movie reeked 2 stars
7/10/02 The Bomb 69 Just not funny enough, few haha's otherwise boring. 2 stars
7/07/02 Film Guy Not very funny. kinda depressing at the end 2 stars
7/04/02 spyguy2 Sweet, funny comedy. Couple of laughs but not a typical Farrelly bro film. 4 stars
6/05/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi im ashamed of the farrelly bro's 1 stars
5/20/02 Holly very good film and I love Zen gesner in this movie 4 stars
3/02/02 Ricky It had it's moments 4 stars
2/28/02 Chowie I want my $10 back 1 stars
1/25/02 Yaris Roshenko Whadyaknow? Gwyneth Paltrow's first movie in which she doesn't think her shit don't stink 4 stars
1/09/02 gigantic fat woman the funniest movie i've seen since "Shooting Niggers". 5 stars
1/09/02 big boy its ffuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnyyyyyy 5 stars
12/26/01 Roy Smith Hypocritical but occassionally funny, saved in the last 10 minutes. 3 stars
12/25/01 Jeremy too cool 5 stars
12/21/01 Mister Char farrelleys best movie since "Say it isn't so," which also sucked, die mr. hat 1 stars
12/03/01 seldom scene farrelleys fell flat!! not enough comedy, too average 2 stars
11/30/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) E.P. and burly should go fuck themselves. The Farrellys are fucking awesome. mel is my pal. 4 stars
11/30/01 sophie good but I've seen better 3 stars
11/29/01 Lori Great movie - anyone who is offended by this should just lighten up! 4 stars
11/29/01 mel i thought it was a good movie.. and by the way, it wasn't just about weight. lighten up!! 5 stars
11/28/01 E.P. insulting to all intelligent humans, regardless of weight 1 stars
11/28/01 berly gives people one last group to make fun of--the overweight. Despicable. 1 stars
11/28/01 Tim I kept hoping it would end 2 stars
11/27/01 Kathleen Greene I hated this film so much that I walked out and asked for my money back. 1 stars
11/26/01 Jessie H. Ahroni horrid 1 stars
11/26/01 Kyle Anderson I liked Jack Black in Saving Silverman, but after watching that movie he ruined his image. 2 stars
11/19/01 Mister Char This was a piece of shit, i hope the Farrelly brother choke 1 stars
11/17/01 Dada A good solid Gwyneth movie 5 stars
11/16/01 G-Man Fat chicks must sweat the whole way through this one in a crowded theatre. 4 stars
11/15/01 Janitor61 pretty good, fatties around the world are rejoicing 5 stars
11/15/01 xray nice surprise 4 stars
11/13/01 Bo Paltrow's ass is worth the price of addmission 4 stars
11/12/01 Butterbean A cute flick, but a little too light on the jokes 4 stars
11/12/01 Caiphn 'fairy deep' is a good thing? Wasn't as good as I expected. 3 stars
11/11/01 tjk It was funny, but also is fairy deep 5 stars
11/11/01 Dead In The Theater More boorish Farrelly horseshit - THEY are the ugly ones 1 stars
11/10/01 ajay thought it was crappy because I expect a Farrelly brothers movie. 2 stars
11/04/01 LeaLea very funny - laughed out loud several times and had a positive ending 4 stars
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  09-Nov-2001 (PG-13)



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