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Shallow Hal (2001)
Directors: Bobby and Peter Farrelly

review by Mike Philbin

The Farrelly brothers almost certainly have a sense of humour - but it is sometimes difficult to decide whether to laugh or cry, be happy or get angry at their movies. In Shallow Hal, their latest video release, a very shallow guy called Hal (played by Jack Black) falls in love with the 300-pound Rosemary (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). Well, that's not really it. There are two over-riding factors to this simple narrative of a guy getting real.
   On his deathbed, Hal's preacher dad made his little son promise to only date the finest peaches, the most gorgeous girls possible. After literally dozens of failed relationships with these slick-looking bimbos, Hal finds himself trapped in an elevator with self-help guru Tony Robbins (played by Anthony Robbins surprisingly). Shallow Hal is a fun movie that wimps out on both its initial promise and central premise. I will not give away the plot, however: they play the fatty for laughs, having her regularly break chairs and wolfing down bucket loads of food in restaurants. They show Hal's love for these new women in totally physical terms - Paltrow playing a fatty! No. This is not the point; there is here no character development or love development between two real human beings. Hal simply has not changed in the way he rates his lovers.
   This is a movie whose humour just about misses every opportunity to redeem itself and the Farrelly brothers' preoccupation with 'handicap' (as in most of their previous works) is distasteful - you can see them finding it very meaningful to bring the freaks back into public view after the closure of all those circuses but they are walking a very fine line trying to play handicap for laughs.
Shallow Hal
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