Written by Sean Moynihan, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Directed by Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly

Running Time: 1:53

Rated PG-13
for language and sexual content

Gwyneth Paltrow
as Rosemary Shanahan

Jack Black
as Hal

Jason Alexander
as Mauricio

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Original Movie Poster

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Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black star in Shallow Hal, a movie about seeing the inner beauty of a person, even if their outer beauty is a bit suspect.

Hal's father, on his death bed, tells Hal (Jack Black) that whatever he does in life, he should always get the youngest, hottest tail he can get. Hal grows up believing this, and only goes after the most attractive women, even if their personality is suffering. One day he ends up in an elevator with acclaimed self-help guru Tony Robbins. Robbins does something to Hal that allows Hal to see a person's inner beauty. Hal immediately starts seeing beautiful women all over the place. His best friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander) still sees what Hal is really seeing, which is ugly and fat women. Hal then runs into Rosemary (Paltrow) and immediately falls in love with the beautiful, funny, amazing person he sees. To the rest of the world however, Rosemary is a very large and unattractive woman. Mauricio tries desperately to convince his friend of this, but Hal can only see Rosemary's inner beauty. Until Mauricio convinces Robbins to tell him the 'cure' for Hal's problem. Then Hal sees Rosemary as she really is, only to realize that he's fallen in love with her for who she is, not what she looks like.

Shallow Hal has an interesting premise (one that many people find disturbing), but ultimately it was just a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy that was way too predictable, and serious lacking in the famous Farrelly Brothers brand of humor. It's like they went soft and mainstream for this film. It started out randy enough, with Hal's minister father on his deathbed talking about nice cans and hooters, but from there nothing special happened. It was just a chance for the Farrelly's to have a lot of hot women show up in the film (including Susan Ward and Brooke Burns) but they didn't go out on a limb as far as humor goes. Hal falls for what he thinks is a hot woman. Hal finds out she's not really hot. Hal falls in love with her anyway. Mauricio has a tail. That's basically the movie. Although why he needed to have a tail is beyond me.

I like Jack Black, but I find him more entertaining in maniacal comedies, and not one where he becomes the leading man. His comedy comes from more of a physical nature, and quick hits, not from being the romantic leading man type. I think he's more attune to playing a best friend in a film, not a lead. Gwyneth Paltrow is radiant as always, but there wasn't much for her to do other than look good. Just about any actress could have played this role, I think it was just seeing Paltrow in a fat suit that shocks people. Jason Alexander as Mauricio was a little like his old George Costanza character on Seinfeld. There was this amazingly beautiful woman who wanted him, but he rejected her because her second toe was too big. And then there was the deal with the tail that came out of nowhere and made no sense. His character in the movie was also run-of-the-mill best friend type (plus of course the tail).

The movie is basically a Jack Black film. If you like him, you'll probably enjoy the movie. Although it wasn't his best work, it was still interesting enough to go see. If you like Gwyneth Paltrow, you might enjoy this, but if you actually want to see her act, I'd check out something else. Overall, this wasn't a typical gross-out Farrelly Brothers film. It was a watered down comedy that had the ability to go over-the-edge, but decided to walk the straight and narrow for the most part. Not bad, but not great.

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reviewed 11/10/01

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