Shallow Hal


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There is nothing wrong with a one joke movie. Depends on the joke.

This being a Farrelly Brothers production, the chances are it's going to be rude and offensive. Judge for yourself. The joke is... fat girls are ugly.

Hal (Jack Black) is shallow. That's the second joke. All he thinks about are sexy blondes with breasts that say, "Squeeze me." He's small and chunky, with an inexhaustible supply of chat-up lines. For a guy who would never make it through the first round of a George Clooney Lookalike Contest, he's fussy. Not as bad as his best pal, Mauricio (Jason Alexander), who gave up a relationship with a babe because one of her toes was abnormal.

After too many losses at the mating game, a man in an elevator puts a spell on Hal. Instead of responding to the physical attributes of women, he attunes to their inner beauty, which means that when he's dancing with a "dog", he think she's a princess.

Rosie is obese. She eats like a horse and looks like a whale. Naturally, Hal sees Gwyneth Paltrow. The joke is that the rest of the cast sees Rosie, while Hal sees perfection in a woman. And then - whoops! - Mauricio has the spell removed.

As a lightly basted bad taste starter, the movie slips down like Welsh rarebit. Black is one of the best of the new batch of high octane comic actors and Paltrow looks ravishing, when she's thin. She doesn't have to do much. Any Sunset Striplette could have played this role, which means that winning an Oscar does not provide a complimentary ticket to The Casting Director's Ball, as promised.

The fat-is-gross non-PC running gag trips up after half an hour. There's nothing else. Dumb And Dumber had momentum, however stupid. There's Something About Mary had Cameron Diaz and an off-the-wall Matt Dillon. Shallow Hal has Shallow Hal.

It's not enough, especially when he becomes Deep Hal and the Farrellys go soft.

Reviewed on: 30 Jan 2002
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Shallow Hal packshot
Jack Black sees an obese blonde as Gwyneth Paltrow after an hypnotic spell changes perceptions.
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Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Writer: Sean Moynihan, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jack Black, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, Rene Kirby

Year: 2001

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

There's Something About Mary