Shallow Hal (2001)
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Review Date: November 06, 2001
Director: Bobby & Peter Farrelly
Writer: Bobby & Peter Farrelly, Sean Moynihan
Producers: Bobby & Peter Farrelly
Jack Black as Hal
Gwyneth Paltrow as Rosemary Shanahan
Jason Alexander as Mauricio
A shallow guy named Hal changes his outlook on picking up girls, after a self-help guru changes his perspective and allows him to see women's inner-beauty on the outside. Basically, if a fat, ugly girl is a really nice person on the inside, she'll look like Gwyneth Paltrow to this guy.
Some laughs, a surprising amount of genuine emotion, a great shot of Gwyneth's ass (g-string, baby!), the incomparable Jack Black and Tony Robbins acting like...Tony Robbins, make this film fairly enjoyable for the most part, but not a side-splitter by any means, and certainly not worth more than the price of your every day video store rental. On the whole, this film just had too many flaws for me to overlook, like: all of its "big" jokes are showcased in the trailer, the film seems to go on forever (much like ME, MYSELF & IRENE-the editor is your friend, guys!), there are bizarre-looking individuals in the film for no apparent reason other than the fact that they will stick out (I'm referring to the handicapped dude and the huge Hawaiian guy in particular-- or were they supposed to be funny or something?), certain scenes are included for obvious "schock" value, but add very little to the story (is that a tail or are you just glad to see me?) and Gwyneth in the fat suit certainly didn't look like Gwyneth, but she definitely didn't look like a real "fat" person either (easy on the prosthetics, guys). I also didn't buy some of the "smaller" bits either. I mean, did Jason Alexander's character really look or sound like a "Mauricio" to anybody? Was that the Lucky Charms "magically delicious" guy as Gwyneth's dad or a man with an exaggerated Irish accent? Were we really supposed to believe the final scene in which Black's character's confesses to Paltrow? (I didn't buy it for a second) And why did Black's "hypnosis" effect only seem to be working on certain people?

And despite sending along a pretty nice message (same as SHREK, incidentally) about not judging a book by its cover, the filmmakers also seemed to have gone out of their way to make fun of fat people here. Okay fine, I'm not gonna be a prude about it, some of it was pretty funny (it is a comedy, after all), but isn't that going against the whole point of the film? I don't know...feels weird looking back at it now. Anyway, it's also pretty obvious that the Farrelly brothers are trying to transition into non-grossout movies with this release, but they still fall into some of their grossout movie problems like length, over-the-top characters and the useless montage sequences with musical interludes (is there any reason why those stupid skyline shots had to be included over and over again?). But before it sounds like I'm totally bashing this movie, allow me to say that there are still quite a number of laughs to be had here, although most of them do take place during the film's first half, and feature Black. The film's second half focuses more on the emotional end of things, with one particularly effective scene, featuring Black and a young burn victim girl.

Which brings us to our two leads: Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow. I love Black, dig his comedy in general and believe him to be the best part in most of the films that he's been in, and this film is no exception (the scene with him and Robbins is a classic already ("Be gone, devil!!"). Paltrow does what she needs to do, act homely and nice, and pulls it off pretty well. I also liked how she walked and talked slower, to give us the impression of a portlier body type, and especially loved how she looked in the film...like an angel! And speaking of angels, wait until you see the awesome ass-shot that she gives up in this movie...woo-haa! It certainly makes up for her boney disrobing in GREAT EXPECTATIONS and it's nice to see that she's eating full meals again. Jason Alexander was okay, but he basically just plays "George Costanza", but in a movie. Incidentally, I didn't think that the trailer for this movie looked funny in the first place, so if you're like many other people that I know, who did think it was funny, well, you might just appreciate more of the humor being offered up here. The crowd with whom I saw this movie, seemed to be enjoying it, but for me, it was a hit-and-miss, all the way.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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