Following the advice of his dying father, Hal dates only women who are physically beautiful. One day, however, he runs into self-help guru Tony Robbins, who hypnotizes him into recognizing only the inner beauty of women. Hal thereafter meets Rosemary, a largely obese woman whom only he can see as a vision of loveliness. But will their relationship survive when Hal's equally shallow friend undoes the hypnosis? Written by
No contest, I will say this marks the best of the Farrelly Brothers. Not because this film is laugh-out-loud funny--it's funny, but not hilarious--but because it has a great heart and delivers a beautiful message without any corny Hollywood pretentions. Sure, the premise is funny--a shallow guy gets virtually hypnotized into thinking all the unattractive women he sees are foxes and ends up going out with a 500-pound woman who he also thinks is a fox. It's a great premise, but the Farrellys don't fixate on that premise alone, preventing it from turning it into a lame, one-joke slapstick comedy. This is a comedy with heart--a rare finding. In between laughs, you really get wrapped up in the characters and storyline. The gags flow quite naturally, without the Farrellys forcing any humor onto the screen. If a comic opportunity comes along, they take advantage, but there's no random acts of slapstick.
I am pleasantly surprised with Jack Black, who has proved in this movie that he doesn't only have what it takes as a comic actor, but also as a serious actor and a romantic lead. I've always enjoyed seeing him on screen, but he usually plays the same wound-up, hyperkinetic characters. Basically, he's funny, but you still know you're watching Jack Black on screen. This time he exercises his ability as a method actor, he succeeds well. Gwyneth Paltrow is adorable and sweet, capturing the audience's sympathy with her winning smile. Joe Viterelli is amusing as her overweight Irish father, and actually pulls off a fairly convincing Irish accent. The sizzling hot Brooke Burns makes a few appearances. And Jason Alexander is always a joy to watch.
I think "Shallow Hal" does the best job at conveying the message that beauty is on the inside. It has been conveyed before in films like "The Nutty Professor," but I feel this film conveyed it best. This could've easily been a 105-minute fat joke, but it doesn't travel that route. There are no crude or mean-spirited gags. Could it be that the Farrelly Brothers matured? Even of the films of theirs that I liked (ex.: "Dumb and Dumber," "There's Something About Mary") are a little uneven and contain a few gags that are just plain cruel. Like in "Mary," Cameron Diaz's brother is mentally ill and the butt of a few jokes. Here, we have a character that walks on both his arms and legs, but he's portrayed as a normal character, and not as a gimmick for some cheap laughs. There are moments that really tugged at my heartstrings. The "burn victim" scene brought quite a few tears to my eyes. The story is solid, with no boring lulls. And the soundtrack is pretty good--I have criticized the Farrellys in the past for using crappy music in their sountracks.
If you're looking for a good romantic/date movie with some good laughs and a good message, "Shallow Hal" will be an absolute delight.
My score: 8 (out of 10)
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