Volume 95, Issue 40

Tuesday, November 13, 2001
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Shallow Hal isn't so deep, but Gwyneth plays fat well

CHRW is radioactive

Sheehy uses music as therapy

Shallow Hal isn't so deep, but Gwyneth plays fat well

Shallow Hal

Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jason Alexander

Directed By: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

One 1/2 stars (out of five)

Gazette File Photo

By Kelly Anderson
Gazette Writer

For those expecting a typical Farrelly brothers movie from Shallow Hal – hang on to your money.

With almost no sign of their trademark gross-out humour (seen namely in hits like There's Something About Mary or Me, Myself and Irene), this is a moral romance film that is mediocre at best.

Hal Larson (Jack Black) leads a shallow life, judging his romantic interests solely on appearance. This changes after an encounter with motivational guru Tony Robbins (who appears as himself). Robbins hypnotizes Hal into seeing people who are beautiful on the inside as equally attractive on the outside.

By fate, Hal meets Rosemary Shanahan (Gwyneth Paltrow). Rosemary is such a nice girl that she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow in Hal's eyes. He can't see that Rosemary is in fact very obese and their ensuing relationship displays Rosemary's confusion at Hal's attraction to her.

Hal's frustrated best friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander) then begins a quest to make Hal see Rosemary the way she truly looks.

Jack Black, better known as the wacky sidekicks in High Fidelity and Saving Silverman, is barely able to carry the leading role. His specialty seems to be screwing his face up and throwing himself about in the club scenes. Unfortunately, there's not much more to him than that.

One wonders why acclaimed actress Gwyneth Paltrow would appear in this mundane movie. Given the script, she effectively portrays Rosemary as a woman tired of being treated badly by men due to her appearance.

However, for the most part the audience sees Paltrow as a thin woman – the way Hal sees her. Only at the end does the audience see the real Rosemary.

By far the most humourous and memorable scenes occur with Tony Robbins. Jason Alexander, who appears as Hal's smarmy best friend, Mauricio attempts to add comic relief to the movie, but his jokes fall flat and his character ends up less funny than Alexander's Seinfeld alter-ego George Costanza.

This is definitely not the hilarious comedy the movie trailer presents. That is, unless you enjoy laughing at a fat person breaking their seat, which happens more than once.

The scenes meant to be funny are not and genuine laughs are few and far between. The jokes come at the expense of the physically imperfect, which all of the characters in this movie are.

One controversy surrounding Shallow Hal is the question of whether it is offensive to fat people, but the truth is, it comes across as an accurate portrayal of society's reactions to those who don't fit the norm.

Yet those "imperfect" people are subjected to almost unreal and overblown depictions.

Shallow Hal attempts to drive home the message that we should not judge people based on appearance, but one can't help judge this film as an ultimate failure.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001