Gwenyth Paltrow plays an obese woman. Only the Farrelly Brothers, those responsible for such hits as Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary, would think of something so absurd.
Of course, throughout most of the movie, we only see her as her skinny self. It turns out that Jack Black gets hypnotized into seeing women only for their inner beauty, so basically all those ugly nice chicks become knockouts, and he doesn't realize it.
Like always, the Farrelly Brothers tread on thin ice, using fat people and a guy with some spine disorder as comical devices. Shallow Hal is a morality tale in a way, supporting the idea that you should judge people by their inner qualities, but are these guys justified in the way they go about it. No matter what kind of story they are trying to tell, they are still using fat people as laughing stocks (not like other comedies don't, though), but of course, feeling guilty about laughing at such things will depend on the person. I personally did not feel too guilty about laughing at Paltrow leap into a swimming pool, suck up a chocolate milkshake, or whatever, but one of my friends did.
Either way, let's just say that Shallow Hal is a funny movie. Whether you feel guilty about it or not you just have to laugh, and not just at obese people. The script is pretty good, a little more dialogue driven than Me, Myself and Irene was, and the acting is pretty fun as well. Jack Black fits his role perfectly (he's not ugly, but he's not exactly handsome, either), and Gwenyth Paltrow does a pretty good job as well. Peter and Bobby Farrelly have finally figured out that you can be funny without completely grossing the audience out, and the result is much better than that last Jim Carrey movie. The jokes still have a level of Farrelly humor, but it is not over the top, and in this situation, that's good. Of course, there is one exception to this, but I won't reveal what happens.
Shallow Hal is pretty much a laughing stock from beginning to end, although it does slow down at the ending just a little. It felt as though the movie takes a long time to get from beginning to end, but then again, I was sitting right in front of two women that had the most annoying laughter in the world.
The only thing that Shallow Hal doesn't touch on is that not all ugly women are nice, and not all beautiful women are mean. I would have liked to have seen just one or two small jokes where maybe Black encounters a hideous-looking woman while hypnotized, and then he runs into her again when he isn't hypnotized and she is still ugly.
Shallow Hal is a funny movie with some morals, but of course the question is whether the means of getting there is the right thing to do. You can end warfare with warfare, but does that justify it? It's up to each individual audience member, although I do not suggest any heavily overweight women go to see this movie. Otherwise, enjoy.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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