Release year: 2001
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Screenwriter: Sean Moynihan, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Starring: Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, Susan Ward, Rene Kirby, Brooke Burns
Hal (Black) is a kind and friendly person with one major flaw; he is incredible shallow when it comes to women, only going after women way out of his league due to a traumatizing experiment in his childhood. When he is stuck in an elevator with the famous life coach Tony Robbins who hypnotizes Hal into only seeing a person’s inner beauty. Suddenly Hal is surrounded by beautiful women who don’t even reject him and then he meets the most beautiful one; Rosemary (Paltrow).
The Farrelly brothers are famed for their comedies (There’s Something About Mary, 1998 and Dumb and Dumber, 1994 being some of their best known ones) and though Shallow Hal is in the same style (the disabled being the most inspirational characters is one of the trademarks they are known for) it is also a more touching story than what we usually see from the brothers. Because watching Hal’s transformation and the disbelief of his new way from the people around him is entertaining but not just in a funny way. It is thought provoking and darn sweet. Black (School of Rock, 2003) is the perfect cast as Hal. Goofy enough to convince of Hal’s shallowness yet endearing enough to like him anyway, he is the embodiment of Hal, a character which almost feels like your best friend at the end of the movie. Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, 1998) juggles a double role, both as the perfect woman Hal sees her as and as the heavily overweight woman wondering why he tells her she is beautiful. Her performance is tender and emotional and a good match to Black. There are several great support characters, most noticeable Alexander (Pretty Woman, 1990) as Hal’s equally shallow friend, Kirby (Stuck on You, 2003) as the positive minded Walt and Burns (Where Hope Grows, 2014) as the first woman Hal encounters after his run-in with Robbins. A funny movie with a big, beating and very warm heart.
After getting into her make up for the first time, Gwyneth Paltrow spent the rest of the day walking around in public. No one recognized her, and she used people’s reaction to her as an obese woman to help understand her character in the film. In a W magazine interview, Paltrow says, “The first day I tried the fat suit on, I was in the Tribeca Grand hotel in New York City and I walked through the lobby. It was so sad; it was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese.”
Want to see Shallow Hal yourself? Click the image below:
Picture copyrights: SF Film