Shallow Hal review by Tom Blain

Slightly deeper than expected, especially for a Farrelly movie.

Since Dumb and Dumber, Bobby and Peter Farrelly have discovered what it takes to get me to laugh uncontrollably. Whether its a 70 MPH snowball to a lovely womans face, or a dog firmly attached to a mans groin, or even a chicken flappin its wings hoping to escape the deep brown caverns of man-ass, I always seem to walk away with a tear in my eye. With Shallow Hal you expect the worst (i.e. best) in humor but get something different and a little unexpected.

Hal (Jack Black) is a nice guy who loves the ladies but he is a bit picky. His perfect woman is jigsaw puzzle of model body parts put together with da Vinci perfection. The problem is his perfect woman is the only woman. His thoughts on love are shared by his good buddy Mauricio (Jason Alexander). The two low-lifes cruise dance clubs and rub up on women who want nothing to two with short fat guys.

One day Hal gets stuck in an elevator with the gargantuan, motivational speaker Tony Robbins (playing himself). With a little bit hypnotism/magic, Hals view on women changes sort of. Instead of seeing a womans outer beauty, Hal sees there inter-beauty. So along comes Rosemary (Gwenyth Paltrow). Hal sees a beautiful thin blonde, and his buddy Mauricio (along with everyone else) sees a 300 lb. woman. Hal ignores what everyone else says and falls in love with Rosemary.

This type of story line seems right up the Farrelly brothers ally. A delicate subject treated like a fastball. But oddly enough the story has more heart than it does fart. The jokes (if they are jokes) arent the type you can comfortably laugh at. For example, while eating a chili cheese dog, Rosemarys seat breaks under her weight. Hal is fuming at the restaurants faulty chairs because he cannot imagine his waifs weight crumbling such a chair. She lies on the ground, embarrassed in front of her new friend, almost ready to cry. Do we laugh? Can we laugh? The poor tattered feelings of Rosemary remove any comedy from the moment and replace it with feelings of sympathy.

Dont get me wrong, there are some moments that get my funny bone. Particularly towards the end when Mauricio reveals his little secret. No more on that should be said. But you should know, going into this movie that it has more heart than laughs.

One flaw of the film is that it does not follow its own creed. It makes a point of emphasizing inter-beauty over outer-beauty. The only problem is that to make this point, they present the inter-beauty of women by displaying a beautiful a new outer-beauty. Once again, outer-beauty is re-emphasized by swapping in haggish looks and chubby thighs for the looks of beautiful blonde models.

All in all, Shallow Hal turns out to be sweet and touching despite its uncomfortable moments. From the men who brought you Dumb and Dumber its quite a shock. Even Jack Black seems to be a bit more mellow than usual. All of this is good, but not quite in line with my expectations. Check it out if you are in the mood for something surprisingly sweet with a few gut laughs. For more bad taste laughs, check out something else.




5 out of 10 Jackasses
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