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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 EricDSnider

"Nice comedy is OK, too, but it still has to be funny."
3 stars

Bobby and Peter Farrelly have a reputation for writing and directing films that are grossly, outrageously funny, movies like "There's Something About Mary" and "Dumb & Dumber." They break taboos, they push the envelope, yada yada yada.

Their latest, "Shallow Hal," is a bit of a departure, and a disappointment. Despite its potential for crudeness -- a man falls in love with an obese woman because he sees her inner beauty -- it has only a few moments of Farrelly-esque outrageousness.

This is allowable, of course; filmmakers are permitted to change genres if they want to. I would rather they go whole hog and make all the fat jokes in the world, because I rather like that style, where's it so audacious, you can't help but laugh. But if Bobby and Peter want to be a little more gentle and touchy-feely, they are well within their rights. I just think they need to do a better job of it.

The focus is on regular ol' non-offensive comedy here, which is fine, except that it doesn't focus on it enough. Too much time is wasted trying to make us feel sympathy for characters who should be, by all rights, one-dimensional jokes, the way God intended them. The Farrellys try to get serious on us, and it doesn't work, because they're not very good at it.

Jack Black plays the title character, a ridiculously superficial moron who seeks only "perfect" women, despite his own physical flaws, which are many. Then he gets trapped in an elevator with motivational speaker Tony Robbins, who hypnotizes him into seeing people as they are on the inside. Ugly women now look good to Hal, and his equally shallow friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander, in the world's worst toupee) is at a loss to explain why his pal's tastes have suddenly taken a turn for the worse.

Black is one of our favorite hip, ironic young actors, but "Shallow Hal" teaches us something we hadn't considered before: He's best in supporting roles. His fun quotient is spread too thin in a lead. If he has depth and range, he is not showing it here, acting a one-note character in a movie that wants to have more notes.

Gwyneth Paltrow plays Rosemary, the fat woman Hal falls in love with. Most of the time, we see her the way he does -- as the thin Gwyneth we know and love. (Fat suits are used to show us how Rosemary really looks.) Paltrow is the closest the movie comes to a character we care about.

By the movie's logic, beautiful woman who are bad people should look ugly to Hal, but that only holds true in one instance. If you're going to use a high concept like this, you'd better stick with it, or at least explain why you're following your own rules haphazardly.

Tony Robbins is great in his cameo, and Jason Alexander gets off some good lines. But the movie is AT LEAST a half-hour too long, and its middle section drags insufferably. One thing the Farrellys have never been good at is writing a tight script -- "There's Something About Mary" was too long, too, you may recall -- and that fault has never been more painfully clear than in "Shallow Hal." Timing is everything in comedy, and this one has no idea where it's going half the time. Sometimes, it doesn't even remember it's a comedy.

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originally posted: 11/10/01 08:08:27
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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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