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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 Erik Childress

"Nothing Shallow About Farrelly's Sweetest Film"
4 stars

Have you ever been walking down the street, seen a couple walking hand-in-hand and wonder how in the hell those two people got together? The guy must have a lot of money or a great car or a big, well, you get the picture. The Farrelly Brothers (There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin) may have a better and more substantial answer for us with their new film, Shallow Hal, a wonderful new comedy that should be required viewing for singles everywhere.

It’s the story of Hal (Jack Black), who at a young age was told by his dying father to never settle for average. Sounds like a nice paternal message, except the words “hot young tail” are also a factor. Not that any man needs a deathbed proclamation to be attracted to certain aspects of the fairer sex, but Hal’s own physique makes him the poster guy for a “beggars can’t be choosers” campaign. One by one, Hal and his Roxbury-like clubbing partner, Mauricio (a very funny Jason Alexander), are turned down faster than you can say “get lost” (which Mauricio even uses in Jerry Maguire-ish fashion to stay on the offensive.)

In Hal’s own moment of serendipity, he’s trapped in an elevator for several hours with self-help guru Tony Robbins (playing himself quite nicely) and hypnotized into only seeing the “inner beauty” of women. Thus, Hal begins to see the princess instead of the warts in a kind of artificial superficiality of the superficial qualities he looks for in women in the first place, but never mind, it’s still a clever concept.

So Hal starts giving the time of day to women who may have never known the time a day in their life, much to the confusion of Shallow Mauricio and the remaining untranced. Time then stops for Hal when he meets Rosemary, who looks like Gwyneth Paltrow on the inside but over a deuce-and-a-half of chewy middle on the outside.

No one would mistake Hal’s pursuit of a deadly sin with the 300 pounds of flesh he’s now interested in, especially Rosemary, who we watch with a profound sadness as her self-esteem leads her to believe Hal is playing a cruel joke. But the brain sees what the heart wants it to feel and Hal is quickly drawn to Rosemary’s kindness and sweet nature (she works for a hospital and the Peace Corps.) Imagine Cameron Diaz’s Mary the way Matt Dillon falsely described her to Ben Stiller and you’ve got Rosemary.

Rosemary’s nature actually perfectly represents that of the film’s. Shallow Hal is practically devoid of the kind of vulgar (yet hilarious) stick-it-in-your-ear, get-it-caught-in-your-zipper headless parakeet punchlines we’ve come to expect from the Farrellys (save for a late gag involving a birth defect). This time they’ve been struck with a nice case of the sweet tooth and its quite infectious. Paltrow gives a fabulous performance as the gal with a heart about as big as her. She doesn’t preach or whine about her bigcomings, but simply accepts them and wishes everyone else could as well, even as she’s aware of how the world works. Equally terrific is Black, who after making a career of playing slightly-or-overly obnoxious supporting characters, reveals a genuinely affecting softer side that’s liable to start getting him similar roles to that of his Saving Silverman co-star, Steve Zahn. Oscar may not look at these performances, but the Golden Globes should.

Shallow Hal does have a few inconsistencies when establishing the rules for Hal’s hypnotism. I can suspend my disbelief far enough that he’s oblivious to the people’s reaction around him or when the slender Rosemary throws a size 82 undergarment at him. But, Hal’s ability isn’t as selective as he once was and extends to everyone he comes in contact with – women and men. So why does the neighbor gal that dumped him (Susan Ward) always appear the same? Is she really just a sweetie on the inside who shouldn’t be punished for rejecting Hal based on his looks? Other women in the film fall victim to the ugly stick for committing variations on the same sin, so why not her? Maybe it’s not always a malicious sin, just somebody following their feelings.

While Shallow Hal does offer its share of big laughs, it doesn’t maintain the kneeslap-a-minute pace of the Farrellys previous works, but that’s ok since this is as much a fracturing of the romantic comedy genre the way Shrek splintered Disney fairy tales into a thousand pixels. This film takes long overdue shots at the marketeers of this world telling us what is beautiful and what is not and also picks its own fight with the women who can be and are every bit as desultory as, in their own words, the “pigs” known as men. (In fact, “good-looking” women will probably have more a beef than the overweight will.) He or she who has never closed their eyes during sex may cast the first stone.

Like it or not, looks are a very big part of our culture and Shallow Hal addresses that. How else can you explain the shockingly unfounded popularity of several untalented actors and actresses? It takes a certain physical attraction for one to approach or be approached, to find out about that person’s personality, their money, their car and whether or not they have a big, well, you get the picture. Women should ask themselves why it has become a cliché for men unhappy with being labeled as “nice.”

The proverbial book’s cover is judged more in this world than O.J. at a silverware shop. Everything has a pre-conclusion attached to it these days from movies to television to people. It’s up to us as individuals to wade through the hypnotic overhyping to see what’s really behind the exterior. Shallow Hal is a perfectly timed meditation on how looks may get you in the door, but can only keep you in the room for so long. It may not quite seem like a Farrelly Brothers movie, but look just underneath the surface and you have one of the smartest, sweetest and funniest romantic comedies of the year.

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originally posted: 11/09/01 02:38:16
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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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