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Shallow Hal
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Shallow Hal order
The Farrelly Brothers

Gwyneth Paltrow
Jack Black
Jason Alexander


star Printer-Friendly version
A very shallow guy named Hal (Black) has a chance encounter with self-help giant Tony Robbins who teaches him how to see the inner beauty inside people. When Hal meets Rosemary (Paltrow), he is convinced that he’s found a girl with a great personality and looks to match. Blinded by his newfound gift, Hal doesn’t realize the Rosemary is really a 300-pound heavyweight.
If any of you remember my review of SAVING SILVERMAN, you’ll remember that I had very few good things to say about Mr. Black. Well, ladies and gentlemen, The Shootin’ Surgeon stands humbled and corrected. Jack Black was easily the best thing about this movie, playing a more subdued character and really driving this little film with great success. The man has talent and he’s converted yours truly to his camp. So here it is: Jack Black, I had misjudged you and I apologize...although SILVERMAN was still crap. The film also has a part by Tony Robbins, a guy who’s got it all going for him. This dude is hilarious and never once have I seen him hesitate to take a poke at himself. He’s in the film for about 10 minutes but that’s worth the viewing alone.

I was initially a bit fearful since the first character to speak was Molly Shannon, which led me to believe that I would be sitting through some stupid SNL type garbage. If that wasn’t enough, I saw the name of the formerly funny Jason Alexander roll by and thought to myself “Wow, another film starring George Costanza acting like George Costanza under another name”. Having no fondness for Jack Black at the time and no extraordinary feelings for Gwyneth Paltrow either, I really wondered what I’d find in this film. I was still rolling my eyes when Black made his first appearance on screen. To my surprise though, the film turned out to be both funny and sensitive and was not at all the slapstick, gross-out flick I had expected. Black and Paltrow pulled through as a couple truly blinded by love. Even Costanza put in a performance that didn’t allude to his famed TV character as much as he has in the past and had some pretty funny lines.

All in all, this was a pretty fun film, running at just over an hour and a half, it was also a quick, light and easy watch. A pretty neat soundtrack also helped as well as the usual comic standards of the Farrelly Brothers, whose timing never fails. They managed to tell an entire story about a very fat person without displaying any disrespect or being offensive just for the sake of it. Others could easily have taken this story and turned it into a ridiculous festival of farts and burps, but they really got the best out of Gwyneth in demonstrating that her excessive weight didn’t mean she was an idiot.
The Bonus material, although a little repetitive, is a pretty interesting addition to the DVD.

First off, there is the commentary track by the Brothers Farrelly. Now these two guys are just plain funny. The best part is that they deadpan pretty much every joke they make and that just makes it even better. They go pretty into depth about everything, from the cast, to the effects, to the crew and the track doesn’t vary much from any other commentary track except for the fact that these two guys make it entertaining. My favorite line, when they’re showing a scene in a club filled with babes is that “The problem with making a movie with so many beautiful women is that we’re both married and have kids so we barely get to sleep with any of them”. You rascals, you!

Next up are the documentaries, beginning with an HBO Special hosted by Baywatch babe and Shallow Hal ugly duckling Brooke Burns. Lasting about 15 minutes, it features some man-on-the-street interviews with folks about shallowness as well as some insights on the film. Cast & Crew interviews are also there as well as a focus on Paltrow's make-up and on the keys to making her skinny-ass look like she weighs 300 pounds. The funniest part is a quick shot of her wearing the fat face without the rest of the suit. Hilarious! The second documentary is a 20-minute Comedy Central documentary. It’s basically your standard studio featurette with more cast & crew interviews and more focus on the fat suit. This became a bit tiresome during the features and although I wanted to find out about it after the film had ended, the fat suit sort of became a repetitive feature after a while. Nothing particularly groundbreaking was revealed during this feature.

Deleted Scenes were the next serving. 11 scenes were available with optional director commentary and although some were quite funny, it was understandable that they remained on the cutting room floor. Following that were two additional featurettes. “Seeing through the layers” was a 15-minute bit featuring make-up effects designer Tony Gardner and although once again the focus was placed on the fat suit, there was also some talk of the other make-up stuff, most notably the techniques used to make hottie Burns turn into Ms. Hyde. That was followed by another special effects look with Stunt Coordinator Martin Grace. “In at the Deep End With Shallow Hal” is a quick 2-minute look at the techniques used to make a giant splash when the diminutive Paltrow jumped into a swimming pool.

The rest consisted of a Music Video by Shelby Lynne of a song called “Wall in your Heart” as well as trailers for this and other films.
A pretty satisfying film with decent extras, this little number, although not necessarily purchase material is a very interesting rental if you’re ever in the mood for something a bit lighter. Good work Mr. Black; you’ve redeemed the SILVERMAN fiasco!
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