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
A frustrating film in a way. I was hugely disappointed in it for a long while, but as the film progressed I kept wondering if my disappointment was merely a product of my unfair expectations. That's probably the case. I expect a daring comedy from the Brothers Farrelly, but Shallow Hal is surprisingly low-key. It doesn't go for easy laughs, as it easily could have done. The plot concerns a looks-obsessed guy (Jack Black) who is hypnotized into seeing the inner beauty of others. He falls in love with a fat woman who appears to him as Gwyneth Paltrow. When the film came out, a lot of people complained that this was terrible; he only loves her because he is attracted to Gwyneth Paltrow, not the fat incarnation that appears in only a couple of shots in the first 90 minutes of the film. But these people didn't really stick around for the payoff in the third act. What's so surprising about this film is how emotionally involving it is. A lot of this is due to Gwyneth Paltrow, who actually gives one of her best performances. But fans of the Farrelly Brothers, as I am myself, will not be shocked to find that emotional center. It was there in both Kingpin and There's Something About Mary. It's just as fun when the Brothers are mean-spirited, however, as they were in Me, Myself, & Irene and, even better, the unfairly maligned Dumb and Dumber. The serious themes are really on full display here, though. The Brothers have a true and touching affection for physical outsiders. I still wish that they wouldn't have forsaken comedy so much, though. I suppose the only jokes would have been fat jokes, but maybe not. Jason Alexander provides almost all of the good laughs. We wonder why he and Jack Black are so mean about the looks of others when they aren't especially gorgeous themselves. Some people are still asking how such a man as Jason Alexander can be so shallow in this film, but they, as I've said before, didn't stick around until the end. This film may improve on repeat viewings, as it was bothering me for a long while. 7/10.
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