Shallow Hal
Dir: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Star: Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jason Alexander
Cert / Year: 12 - PG13 / 2001
Format: Video

Due to a trauma as a kid Hal Larson has become a Shallow, image obsessed pillock. He and is sad mate Maurico hit on beautiful women is a vain attempt to find happiness in physically perfection. That is until he is trapped in a lift with motivational guru Tony Robbins. Robins alters Halís perception of people so that he can only see their inner beauty. This leads him to fall for 300 pound nice girl Rosemary. Unfortunately Maurico misses his shallow mate and aims to make him see the truth and ruin his happiness.

The Farrelly brothers have cornered the market in stupid gross out comedies. From the brilliant Dumb and Dumber, to the passable There's Something about Mary they have managed to lower the tone and put the cause of sophisticated humor back to into the dark ages. It comes as a surprise therefore that this film doesn't have any knob gags and only one toilet joke. In fact it actually has something to say about modern society and our ingrained attitudes to beauty. It is a great shame then that the subject is handled with all the sensitivity of a bull in a china shop.

The biggest single crime that the film commits is that it is based around just one joke, and that is the fact that fat or ugly people are nice and thin beautiful people nasty. This flawed and basically offensive assumption is the only so called funny thing in the film. Unfortunately I can't find the humor in the way this subject has been treated here and this film leaves an unpleasant after taste.

It wouldn't have been so bad if the fat or ugly people are treated with respect, but all of the gags are at their expense. Ok so the end message is find the inner beauty in people, but it comes after an hour and half of laughing at fat people, and this is just wrong. Ok so there are one or two laughs to be had but you are laughing at the people who are meant to be fat but nice, not with them. If you want to see the concept of physical beauty done with respect and a whole heap of comedy watch Roxanne to see the difference. It is a sad indictment of American society, which has such high levels of obesity, that no matter how hard it tries it can't shake off it beauty obsession and come to terms with reality.

Unfortunately the obnoxious central premise is not the only problem with the film. Jack Black has never impressed me, and here his portrayal of the central character is so unlikeable that by the end of the movie you wish something really unpleasant (like appearing in a sequel) would happen to him. The casting of Gwyneth Paltrow is another massive mistake. If this is a film about fat people then why not cast a fat person, not one of skinniest actresses on the planet. As it is we see her thin as Hal does for the vast majority of the film and this just doesn't work.

Shallow Hal is offensive, but not in the way that the usual effluent from the Farrelly brothers is. Yes is does have some good performances and it is funny in places, but it has no idea how to be sensitive to its subject matter. It may have been the intention that the message from the film should have been that inner beauty that counts. However what we actually get is that fat people are funny because they are fat, but deep down they are really nice people. There are many better comedies out there, so avoid this nasty piece of work.


The Biggest Love Story Ever Told.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home