on April 25, 2004
When this movie was first released there was some hype about how offensive it supposedly was to unattractive and/or overweight women. I'm not a plain-looking or heavy-set gal (or a woman, period, for that matter) so I can't say for sure if it is, and I won't dispute their word about it either, but having seen it a number of times it seems odd that the ones who should be insulted by this movie aren't really saying what they should about it. (Hmmm, makes me wonder if maybe some of the stuff that's said about pretty ladies here ARE true. Kidding.) Anyways, I just really wanna set the record straight here for anyone who thinks that the hogwash that's spewed in this movie about pretty women is true. Here it goes: my bro is a professional photographer, and a very damn good one, too. He's worked with Playboy Playmates, fashion models, actresses and dancers. In all the 12 years in his illustrious job he has NEVER had any problems or conflicts with any of them because of their personalities. There's never been any reason for that happening, either. They've all been some of the nicest and funniest people we've ever met. Yes, I know, I'm his assistant.
I'm not gonna be hypocritical, though. I did like this movie and I did laugh a lot, but all the characterizations are completely inaccurate. Who says that all unattractive women are particularly nice??? And as for Hal's pretty but shallow neighbor, do you really think she'd be chasing him after watching him dance with "a pack of stampeding buffalos"? Being equally superficial as Hal was I would think she'd be curious to know him if the ladies at the night club really did look as good as Hal imagined them to be in his mind. Oh, well. Perhaps the makers of this movie should get out more. Nevertheless, a pretty funny movie. Peace.
on February 11, 2004
The Farrely Bros ("There`s Something About Mary", "Dumb and Dumber") bring another amusing comedy that it`s a notch above most of the others out there. Why? Hard to tell...
The plot isn`t deep, just about a shallow guy, Hal (wisely played by Jack Black) who, due to a little confusion, develops an ability to see women`s inner beauty. He comes across Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow), and suddently starts caring for her, even if he doesn`t acknowledge that she is, in fact, fat (because, well, he only sees her inner beauty). From this point on, we follow Jack`s discoveries and the choices he will have to deal with.
True, this plot isn`t really earth-shattering, but for the most part it works and its both funny and compelling (the directors and actors actually make us care for the characters), delivering an enjoyable comedy, even if a bit predictable at parts. It also helps that it avoids the stupid gross-out humour that is so used nowadays, generating some genuine laughs.
Yes, "Shallow Hal" is a feel-good movie, even a bit preachy, but it somehow suceeds very well. It seems that the Farrelys know how to make simple movies with heart, so it`s better to leave the cynism away for a while.
on February 17, 2003
Hal (Jack Black) is a very shallow man who, after being hypnotized into seeing only the inner beauty of the people he encounters, begins to have what seems to him to be incredible luck dating beautiful women. In reality, however, they are actually physically unattractive women who are grateful and/or surprised by his attentions. Hal's romance with the obese Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow) has him in ecstacy while his equally shallow buddy Mauricio (Jason Alexander) reels in disbelief.
As usual, the Farrellys manage to remain just this side of the good taste barrier by presenting potentially offensive material with a sweetness and empathy that allows us to laugh at the situation without laughing at the characters themselves. For example, Hal and Mauricio's dismissive attitudes and shameful comments about women would have been unforgiveable had they been uttered by, say, Ben Affleck or Tom Cruise or even Jim Carrey. However, by placing them in the mouths of Black and Alexander, who are themselves far from being the epitome of male physical beauty, the focus remains on the ridiculousness of the standard to which they hold other people.
My problem with the film is that it just doesn't have the laughs I have come to expect from a Farrelly brothers movie, particularly one that teams them with the hilarious Jack Black. It is, however, enjoyable.
on September 23, 2002
Some of my favorite comedies these days are There's Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, so I was excited about the release of Shallow Hal. I was surprisingly disappointed by the film however. The film focusses on a VERY shallow skirt chaser Hal (Jack Black)whose sexy (and one week) girlfriend Jill (Susan Ward)has just dumped him. Then one day at work, Hal runs into Tony Roberts in an elevator. When the elevator breaks down, Hal tells Roberts about his breakup with Jill, leading to him confessing how shallow he is in terms of women. Roberts then gives Hal advice and also the ability to see only the inner beauty of women. In conclusion, Hal's friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander) is a bit surprised when he sees Hal dancing with three women who look like supermodels to Hal, but hags to Mauricio. Then one day Hal meets Rosemary (Gwenyth Paltrow) whom he sees as a slim, buxom, and charming woman, but in reality is an extremely obese not-so-hottie. The two begin dating and fall in love, before Hal loses his ability to see inner beauty. The film is basically about 90 minutes of fat jokes, and romance that seems too clean and tranquil for a film by Peter and Bobby Farrelly. Some of the jokes are genuinely funny, but many feel rehashed and corny. If you want a comedy that will have you in stitches, I wouldn't recommend Shallow Hal. Otherwise, I'd rent it rather than buy it.
on August 29, 2002
I have to admit to being less impressed by this movie than many of my fellow reviewers. While I did enjoy certain aspects of the movie in terms of the possible lessons it had to teach, and also enjoyed some of the obvious fat jokes running through the sequences, I also had the distinct impression that the directors were employing this social commentary in an attempt to use it commercially by making it grist for a funny movie. Given the fact that this duo is well known for their infantile and coarse approach, it is hard to believe that their motives were as noble as some of the other reviewers seem to believe. Add onto that fact the unavoidable truth that for people trapped in fat and ugly exteriors, no such movie magic is likely. Their lives are anything but comical.
After all, the fact that the person Shallow Hal keeps seeing in his self-imposed cure of seeing the ï¿½inner personï¿½ is Gwyneth Paltrow, an astonishingly beautiful young lady. And all the fat suits in the world cannot suspend our knowledge that underneath her ï¿½actualï¿½ appearance lies the irresistibly delicious morsel of human protoplasm. Therefore, pretending that we can suspend our knowledge of what Gwyneth really looks like underneath the fat suit is the key lie undercutting the whole premise of the movie as social commentary, and I for one am not buying into it. This is a slick attempt to cash in on peopleï¿½s meaner and coarser feelings, and then make those feelings and reactions socially acceptable as long as we get the ï¿½moralï¿½ that it is no fun and no fair to have to be fat and ugly even as we are laughing at all the fat jokes that come streaming through.
Having said all that, I must also admit that the storyline is interesting, and the cast is quite credible and convincing, especially Jack Black as the title figure that transforms himself from chronic shallowness to substantial compassion along the way. So, this is at best a mixed bag. As I said earlier, I suspect the directors have deliberately mined a vein of palpable human pain and sorrow in search of a marketable movie product, and am a bit ambivalent about whether all the fat jokes in the movie really are so much in service to the learning of Shallow Halï¿½s moral lessons as they are the unfortunate grist for a comical movie that commercially exploits the sadness and pain of overweight people. I rate it three out of five stars for that reason. Enjoy.
on August 27, 2002
I missed it in the theater but read about the movie at the time, recently I got to see it on pay per view and thought it was O.K.
Hal is a really shallow character who seems to think of women as nothing but sex objects, he spends his free time bar hopping & whatever just looking for some woman to have sex with, caring only for her looks. The guy is rude and crude to most everyone, even Tony Robbins, who he gets trapped in an elevator with one day.
Robbins hypnotizes him (this isn't really explained in the movie)into seeing people for what they really are and not what they actually look like. For much of the rest of the movie Hal spends his time with women that are beautiful inside, he can't see how fat or ugly they are physically.
Things come to a head when Hal starts going out with the bosses daughter Rosie, she's really enormous. Hals pal, played by Jason Alexander, is a loser like Hal who is so upset by his friends weird behavior that he tracks Robbins down and learns how to break the trance. After that Hal soon ends up breaking Rosie's heart and gradually learns that it's what's inside that counts.
I remember reading that Gwyneth Paltrow actually wore that fatsuit out on the street to experience the predjudice large people feel. That thing was amazing on her, it looked so real.
I'd love to see the extra's on the DVD they ought to be a lot of fun.
on July 19, 2002
First of all, let me state this: I am myself overweight - not obese, but overweight. One of my best friends is morbidly overweight. I found the film, hilarious on several occasions and so did she. I will admit, that she also found it flat for the most part. I won't say it was completely flat, but the film could have been funnier - though when it was funny, I thought I would pass out.
Is it offensive to overweight people? Let's look at this in the light it is presented... Jack Black and Jason Alexander's characters are the narrators (so to speak) of the story. Neither one of these guys is in shape and that is key to the story. They are losers who are both trying to prove to the other that they are studs with the ladies, when in truth neither of them can get a date.
In a casting coup, Tony Robbins, the self help guru, sort of brainwashes Jack into only seeing women for who they are inside instead of on the outside. This is something that we should all do, but very very few of actually do. From there forward, Jack only sees women for the beauty within them. The fact that most of the beautiful women he sees are in fact physically unattractive in one way or another, is a point that is actually rather delicately handled. It is a telling point of the filmmakers that one woman that he sees as an old crone, is in reality a gorgeous woman. So what's the point of this? I think the filmmakers actually wanted to show that just because a person is beautiful on the outside, they can be ugly on the inside. Conversely, an unattractive person on the outside can be equally or moreso unattractive on the inside (this is a point that could have been brought out but was not).
Does the film pander to the idea that fat people are jolly, etc.? Yeah. Does it presume that unattractive people are more beautiful on the inside? Yeah.
Is the film politically correct? Who cares! We have all become so overly sensitive that we're a nation of big cry babies. I hope that I am evolved enough that if I countenance something that I don't like I can ignore it and move on. Who's the fool if I let something get under my skin? It's me. My folks taught me to "consider the source" when I was offended by something or someone.
So, if you think you will be offended by this film - then don't watch it. No one is holding a gun to your head.
But if you do watch it and get offended - then get a thicker skin - I can promise you there are going to be many more offensive things in life than this film. In short - grow up and get over it!
It's a funny film - watch it.
on July 18, 2002
When Hal (Jack Black) was a boy, his father taught him to aim high, to not settle for anyone less than "perfect." When he grew up, he stuck to his father's words, but for some reason he never could find a perfect girl, or rather, they were too shallow to go out with him. Luckily, he runs across Self-Help guru Tony Robbins, who grants Hal the special power of seeing women by their inner beauty. Suddenly, the ugly girls are beautiful, and the beautiful girls go both ways. But when Hal finds the girl of his dreams (Gwyneth Paltrow), he can't see how extremely overweight she is. This leads to a lot of strange misunderstandings, but over time the two fall in love. Hal's best friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander), who's even more shallow than Hal, isn't going to let his friend ruin himself like this though, and does all he can to thwart the relationship. When he finally succeeds in curing Hal of his vision problems, Hal will have to learn to see inner beauty with his own eyes.
Shallow Hal is a funny movie, no doubt, but at the same time it probably delivers just as many sad scenes that depict how cruel people can be to a stranger for really no good reason other than their different appearance. But I'm not complaining about that. That's part of the lesson this film is trying to teach. The problem I have with this movie is the same problem I had with Shrek really. I like them both, I will probably eventually purchase them both, but they're both only effective in entertaining their audience. They both fail in teaching their message because they both contradict themselves. But let's only deal with Shallow Hal here. The idea is that we shouldn't judge people by their appearances, right? Well, what was it that everyone was doing to Hal in this movie? I mean, really? They were knocking Hal down for aiming too high, saying things like, "You've been shooting for girls who are out of your league," and "You're not that good looking," etc... Was Hal shallow? Sure, but not much more than everyone else in the film, or in the world for that matter. But for some reason Hal has no right to be shallow because he's not good looking. It's really more confusing than anything. I know that, like Shrek, this movie was trying to say that we should get to know people instead of judging them by their appearances, and it did make a minor attempt at punishing the cruel, good looking people in the picture. But in the end, the film pokes more fun at unattractive people than Hal ever could, while teaching no stronger lesson than that same one taught in Shrek, "Stick with your own kind." You're ugly, so date ugly. You're fat, so date fat. It's the only way you'll ever find anyone and truly be happy. In truth, Hal wasn't any more shallow than anyone else. His friend Mauricio, now HE was shallow.
on July 12, 2002
There are obviously two sides to this movie and depending on which side you look at will go a long ways in determining whether you will like it. You can either see this movie as a movie that makes fun of overweight people, or you can look at it as a movie that argues and makes a point that people should change their opinions and look inside of a person rather than judging by a person's weight or appearance. I felt like I was very divided in what this movie was trying to accomplish. I felt like the movie was trying to tell people that physical appearance does not matter and that love can overcome many obstacles if you look deep into a person's heart. The problem that this movie encompasses is that it doesn't overcome the many "fat" jokes that are used (for instance, someone sitting down and breaking a chair,the earth shaking, the bench tilting to one side, etc). I saw this movie in the show and felt as though people were not getting the message that Hal's character was changing and he was becoming aware of his biases. Instead, people just laughed at all the fat jokes. There are far too many "pokes" at people with weight problems and this is too bad, because there are (believe it or not) some touching moments in Hal's transformation, such as the moments in the hospital with the child who has severe burns. It is like the producers are trying to give a message but, at the same time, they contradict themselves by going about it the wrong way. Overall, I felt this would have been a much better movie if the producers would have toned down on the jokes, and made this more of a movie about what the heart sees.
on July 7, 2002
Jack Black (the very noisy clerk in "High Fidelity") is Hal of the title, who falls in love with Gwyneth Paltrow's character Rosemary. But as he can see only 'internal' beauty of the people he meets, he doesn't know that the actual Rosemary is not what he thinks she is. In fact, Rosemary -- witty, kind-hearted, and sensitive -- is a very fat girl.
The Farrelly Brothers stretched this premise to the extreme because, as we know, they are kind of guys who made "There's Something About Mary" which is brimmed with politically incorrrect gags. But in this film the brothers show another side of them: romance.
OK, so, there's fewer occasions for the directors to show their trademark gross-out humors. Their outrageous gags are there, but the film gives more stress on the love-story of Hal and Rosemary. Some people say the brothers went soft. Perhaps.
Jack Black, despite our anticipation, is very good as Hal, who at first appears as an annoying guy who sees only external beauty of females. He tries to have a date with every girl he meets at disco, but always fails. Except that habit, Hal is a pretty nice fellow you might relate to ... so the film goes on to explain ... if you could swallow this initial premise.
Though Hal's character seems off-putting initially, he shows another side when he meets lovely Rosemary. Of course, he doesn't know her truth -- he is given a certain 'power' from Anthony J. Robbins in an elevator -- and Rosemary thinks he is only joking. But as she gradually sees he really means it, a romance starts to bloom until an inevitable development of story comes.
Jack Black shows unexpected tender side of his character well, which could have been just a shallow caricature of playboy. We somehow come to like him (if not the film itself), and it is certain that JB scored another point after Stephen Frears film. On the other hand, Gwyneth Paltrow, beautiful as she is, is put in an awkward situation, I am afraid. She (Gwyneth, I mean) is a cute girl, to be sure, but she appears fairly briefly as true Rosemary wearing a fat suit and special make-up. Now, a fundamental question pops up here -- if moviemakers say they do not make fun of fat girls, why don't they try to find a really cute fat girl somewhere, and cast her as the lead, instead of having Gwyneth in a suit?
Some of the gags are indeed funny, but they do not play a major role in this film. It's a romance; or, I should say, it tries to be one, and in my book it ends up with a so-so result. However, whether it is a right way to make a romantic film with Oscar-winning Paltrow in this fashion remains a mystery. And whether you can enjoy "Shallo Hal" from your heart, or you are offended by the use of issues like obesity, depends on that score.