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SHALLOW HAL

SYNOPSIS:
Hal Larsen (Jack Black) is a nerdy little guy whose appreciation of women starts and ends with their looks. When Tony Robbins (the real guru) meets him and discovers this, he offers an impromptu solution to Hal’s shallowness, with a little post hypnotic suggestion, which enables Hal to see the inner beauty of the women he meets - reflected in their physical appeal. Like the lovely Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow), who in reality is an obese Peace Corps volunteer. Smitten by her, Hal sees others in a similar light, much to the consternation of his equally nerdy buddy Mauricio (Jason Alexander). Hal’s romantic discovery leads to a surprising revelation for him.

Review by Louise Keller:
The Farelly Brothers clearly have a fascination for the physically challenged and the politically incorrect. This was apparent in films such as There's Something About Mary and Me, Myself and Irene, which combined wacky with edgy and what could be considered bad taste humour. Shallow Hal is a surprise in that the laughs are inner chuckles, and stupid makes way to poignant. While we think we know the direction the film is taking, we suddenly realise that it is has taken a right turn, and is, in fact, not shallow at all. Shallow Hal is a fable that canvasses our perception of beauty, and plays with the concept that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. What starts as a one joke gag develops into a sweet, heartfelt film that surprises with its poignant moments. In fact there are moments that we feel trapped in one of two different worlds – a perception warp, if you like. And while some of it is pretty silly, we don't want the bubble to burst: we want Hal to be happy. I surprised myself that I actually cared for Rosie, the butt of the hippo jokes, and for Hal (Jack Black is terrific), the poor misguided git whose conditioning had set him on a superficial path. It is incredible to see beautiful, slender Gwyneth Paltrow pudding out to the ample proportions of Rosie with the cankles (you'll have to see the film to work that one out!). It is credit to the Farelly Brothers that we actually begin to see the beauty beyond the physical. There's a splatter of physically challenged characters, and the scene where Walt, clearly inflicted with spina bifida, rocks on the dance floor with his crutches, will no doubt offend some. Jason Alexander is in good form as Hal's best friend Mauricio – check out the toupe; Alexander and Black make a good team, each playing off the other. (There's an unexpected doggie gag to be discovered.) The key to enjoying Shallow Hal is to discard as many expectations as you can about a Farelly Brothers film. The music is upbeat and the film looks very fine. If you can suspend disbelief enough to take the trip – and I must confess, I did – you may find a whole new way of looking at people. And at the risk of sounding like a soft marshmallow, let's face it, the inner self has nothing to do with the outer layer.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Shallow Hal is a half hour idea inside a two hour movie. Like Gwyneth Paltrow inside the obese Rosemary, it is neither funny nor poignant. Just heavy going. It’s a funny idea, alright, but not a funny film. The first 90 minutes are rather dull, like an earnest sermon, which switches to schmaltz for the last 30 minutes. The Farrelly brothers – makers of There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber, Me Myself & Irene - misjudge the value of their material here, and use gunpowder trying to make a soufflé. They run out of puff within 20 minutes. Bloated like Rosemary, Shallow Hal is repetitious and shallow itself, working the superficial side of the street. Even as a far flung comedy, the film fails the funny test; as a moral story, it’s pathetic. For one thing, it contradicts its own premise, that judging people by their looks is ignorant and shallow. It proves how a person’s inner beauty is reflected – by having Paltrow’s thin and attractive body as the ‘real’ Rosemary. Bit pointless, then, to be making a sermon about inner beauty, isn’t it.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

SHALLOW HAL (M)
(US)

CAST: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jack Black, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, Rene Kirby, Tony Robbins, Susan Ward, Zen Gesner

DIRECTOR: Bobby & Peter Farrelly

PRODUCER: Bradley Thomas, Charles B Wessler, Bobby & Peter Farrelly

SCRIPT: Sean Moynihan, Bobby & Peter Farrelly

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russell Carpenter ASC

EDITOR: Christopher Greenbury ACE

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sidney J Bartholomew Jr

MUSIC: Ivy

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 3, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: May 15, 2002







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