Shallow Hal
She's so lovely. Jack doesn't know it, but Rosemary doesn't really look like Gwyneth Paltrow...
dir Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
scr Sean Moynihan, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
with Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, Anthony Robbins, Bruce McGill, Susan Ward, Sascha Knopf, Nan Martin, Kyle Gass, John-Eliot Jordan, Molly Shannon
release US 9.Nov.01; UK 1.Feb.02
Fox
01/US 1h53

4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
the biggest love story ever told The Farrelly Brothers veer far from their usual gross-out material here. The core of There's Something About Mary hinted at a talent for warm-hearted romance; with only a couple of zany slapstick moments, this is a straightforward rom-com. And a very good one at that. Hal (Black) is obsessed with looks to the exclusion of everything else, including any sense of reality in his relationships. And his best friend Mauricio (Alexander) is just like him. Then Hal has an encounter with a self-help guru (Robbins as himself) who gives him a post-hypnotic suggestion that he look beyond appearances and see the beauty in everyone. Next thing he knows, he's madly in love with Rosemary (Paltrow). He sees her as a gorgeous wafer-thin model; everyone else sees that she weighs closer to 300 pounds.

Well at least the Farrellys are still skating on thin ice! The film plays on every aspect of appearance--not just weight, but also disability, injury and age. In using the lovely Paltrow it kind of undermines its own point ... until we see Paltrow in her "fat suit" (which is utterly brilliant) and the film becomes a sublime lesson in seeing the quality of a person. Yes, it's a bit heavy handed, but the Farrellys are remarkably clever in the way they approach it, keeping the love story at the centre and drawing startlingly good performances. Black slides into leading man status effortlessly--charming, hilarious and utterly winning. While Paltrow delivers a remarkably subtle and layered performance both chubby and skinny (she could stand to put on a few pounds!). Despite a couple of ill-judged comic routines in the middle, the story keeps its feet firmly on the ground with characters who are, astonishingly, real people! In the end it might be a little too nice for its own good, but by then we've fallen for these people hook, line and sinker.
adult themes, language cert 15 13.Nov.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
the biggest love story ever told send your review to Shadows... "I wanted to see for myself if this movie is really offensive to fat people. I gotta say, the remark made by Alexander would be more offensive to pretty women - he said, 'Gee, notice all the women you have dated recently are smart, kind and funny - and think about it - what pretty women did you meet that were like that?' To me, THAT is an offense. Anyway, we all know the world would be a better place if people were totally accepted as they are, no one was put down because of skin color, race, weight, age, size, sex, you name it - big feet, big ears, large noses, large moles, etc. Paltrow said she wore her fat suit out in public to see if she was treated differently - duh - okay, pretty gorgeous blonde shopping, versus overweight, pretty face shopping. She said she was treated differently, - of course she was! All right, I am ranting - but I gotta say this movie should not really be offensive to anyone, because it is all about showing this Hal guy (Black), who is totally shallow, that people are beautiful on the inside. For the first time in his life he was really seeing people as they are, and he was having fun! I think people take themselves too seriously if they are offended by this movie. I really think it is cute and enjoyable - and at times downright funny. The audience laughed out loud several times. If nothing else, you gotta go see the parting shot of Alexander's little secret!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 11.Nov.01
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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