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HomeNewsArchivesDEPTH IS DEBATABLE IN 'SHALLOW HAL'

DEPTH IS DEBATABLE IN 'SHALLOW HAL'

Nov. 24, 2001 – Just because you love the Farrelly Brothers ("Dumb and Dumber," "Kingpin," "There's Something About Mary," "Me, Myself and Irene") doesn't necessarily mean you'll like "Shallow Hal."
Conversely, just because you find the Farrellys' fixations with toilet functions and the walking (or crawling) wounded tasteless doesn't necessarily mean you'll be turned off by "Shallow Hal."
The reviewers are across the board on this one. "Your mother's Farrelly Brothers movie," suggests the L.A. Weekly. "All this sweet, inoffensive stuff is actually pretty boring." says the Seattle Times. "If the overweight need a boost of self-esteem, fewer movies like this one would help," weighs in The Onion's A.V. Club. "Likeable enough until you start to think about it," channels TV Guide. But The New York Times is not put off: The Farrelly brothers, its reviewer writes, "have made a name (and a lot of money) for themselves as champions of tasteless, puerile humor. But their high-grossing gross-out movies … have all had an undercurrent of sweet humanism."
Okay, the story line: Hal (Jack Black, the campy clerk in "High Fidelity," in his first starring role) is a sort of Jon to Rosemary (everywhere-actress Gwyneth Paltrow)'s Garfield. Hal's dying dad told him babes are what life is all about, and he's been chasing them, to not much avail, ever since. As luck would have it, self-help guru Tony Robbins (in a cameo as himself) hypnotizes Hal so that he now perceives inner beauty as outer appearance. And so the 300-pound, but good and kind, Rosemary (Paltrow in a fat suit that actually weighed 25 pounds, according to the special effects folks) really does look to him like the supermodel sylph who's playing the role.
And that's the way the audience sees her, for the most part, too, until well into the film. Hence, we have scenes where the reed-thin Rosemary is bending the park bench, tilting the canoe and cannonballing water all over the place in the pool. It's asking viewers to enter Hal's admittedly altered mind, while it would be so much easier just to guffaw at his twisted takes.
Rosemary/Garfield, meanwhile, who just happens to be the boss's daughter, is at peace with her obesity. When Hal comes on to her, she takes his sincerity for sarcasm, cruelty or outright insanity. But romance blossoms and all goes well — until the spell is broken, and we get to see if there's any real depth to the new, improved Hal.
Whether all of this is funny, tasteless or touching depends on point of view. One critic wrote that the Farrelly Brothers — who also were two-thirds of the writing team — "imagine they've made a movie about inclusiveness."
Maybe so, but probably no. They've been making movies that make money because there's a market out there, and why stop now? Notice this: Every one of the stills from the film that a semi-serious Internet search turned up shows Paltrow in the company of Black as her normal, size 2 self. As one critic commented, if the filmmakers had really wanted to be inclusive, they could have cast Camryn Manheim in the Rosemary role. Or Kathy Kinney ("Mimi" on "The Drew Carey Show").
"Shallow Hal" is rated PG-13. It's playing at Sunny Isles Theaters.

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Nov. 24, 2001 - Just because you love the Farrelly Brothers ("Dumb and Dumber," "Kingpin," "There's Something About Mary," "Me, Myself and Irene") doesn't necessarily mean you'll like "Shallow Hal."
Conversely, just because you find the Farrellys' fixations with toilet functions and the walking (or crawling) wounded tasteless doesn't necessarily mean you'll be turned off by "Shallow Hal."
The reviewers are across the board on this one. "Your mother's Farrelly Brothers movie," suggests the L.A. Weekly. "All this sweet, inoffensive stuff is actually pretty boring." says the Seattle Times. "If the overweight need a boost of self-esteem, fewer movies like this one would help," weighs in The Onion's A.V. Club. "Likeable enough until you start to think about it," channels TV Guide. But The New York Times is not put off: The Farrelly brothers, its reviewer writes, "have made a name (and a lot of money) for themselves as champions of tasteless, puerile humor. But their high-grossing gross-out movies ... have all had an undercurrent of sweet humanism."
Okay, the story line: Hal (Jack Black, the campy clerk in "High Fidelity," in his first starring role) is a sort of Jon to Rosemary (everywhere-actress Gwyneth Paltrow)'s Garfield. Hal's dying dad told him babes are what life is all about, and he's been chasing them, to not much avail, ever since. As luck would have it, self-help guru Tony Robbins (in a cameo as himself) hypnotizes Hal so that he now perceives inner beauty as outer appearance. And so the 300-pound, but good and kind, Rosemary (Paltrow in a fat suit that actually weighed 25 pounds, according to the special effects folks) really does look to him like the supermodel sylph who's playing the role.
And that's the way the audience sees her, for the most part, too, until well into the film. Hence, we have scenes where the reed-thin Rosemary is bending the park bench, tilting the canoe and cannonballing water all over the place in the pool. It's asking viewers to enter Hal's admittedly altered mind, while it would be so much easier just to guffaw at his twisted takes.
Rosemary/Garfield, meanwhile, who just happens to be the boss's daughter, is at peace with her obesity. When Hal comes on to her, she takes his sincerity for sarcasm, cruelty or outright insanity. But romance blossoms and all goes well -- until the spell is broken, and we get to see if there's any real depth to the new, improved Hal.
Whether all of this is funny, tasteless or touching depends on point of view. One critic wrote that the Farrelly Brothers -- who also were two-thirds of the writing team -- "imagine they've made a movie about inclusiveness."
Maybe so, but probably no. They've been making movies that make money because there's a market out there, and why stop now? Notice this: Every one of the stills from the film that a semi-serious Internet search turned up shows Paltrow in the company of Black as her normal, size 2 self. As one critic commented, if the filmmakers had really wanted to be inclusive, they could have cast Camryn Manheim in the Rosemary role. Or Kathy Kinney ("Mimi" on "The Drew Carey Show").
"Shallow Hal" is rated PG-13. It's playing at Sunny Isles Theaters.