Shallow Hal, shallow plot

Dec. 5, 2001, midnight | By Kevin Chang | 19 years, 1 month ago

Oh great, another guy meets girl, loses girl, runs after girl and gets her back movie.

That was the first thing I thought when I first saw the previews for Shallow Hal. It was also the last thing I thought as I walked out of the theater.

Director/producer team Bobby and Peter Farrelly manage to send a positive message with the movie, though they obviously weren't having a flash of inspiration with the straight-from-the-mold plot.

The film is about typical superficial guy Hal Larson (Jack Black) who has no luck with girls until he runs into personal counselor Anthony Robbins, who plays himself in the movie.

They talk to pass the time, and Robbins quickly realizes that Hal is, as the movie's title states, extremely shallow. In a guardian angel scene, Robbins gives Hal the ability to see people for their inner beauty instead of their appearance.

Almost immediately after he gains his new skill, Hal meets Rosemary Shanahan (Gwyneth Paltrow), who, despite being fat enough to crush steel chairs by just sitting down, appears to Hal as the girl of his dreams. While everyone else sees the fat woman, Hal believes he's talking to a slim girl who happens be a perfect fit with his definition of beauty.

They hit if off, of course, and all is well until, in another creative moment, she sees him having dinner with his neighbor. Naturally, she assumes he's left her for a better-looking girl, leaving him to chase her down for the rest of the movie.

The end of the film is based on the most overused engine of all entertainment history: Hal manages to catch Rosemary after various trials and tribulations to win her back.

In spite of all the cliché themes of the movie, it does have a few interesting surprises. Hal's friends Mauricio (Jason Alexander) and Walt (Rene Kirby), neighbor Jill (Susan Ward), boss Steve Shanahan (Joe Viterelli) and the rest of the supporting cast all perform superbly, especially considering that many of them were in their first major film productions. Alexander, famous for his role as George Costanza from TV's Seinfeld, slides nicely into his movie role.

If you want to see a creative movie or something with some action, take a pass on Shallow Hal. But if you have a few hours to spare and want to see a movie with more of a message than "Ooh, lookit all the stuff blowing up," Shallow Hal might just be what you're looking for.

Shallow Hal, FOX productions, 1 hr. 53 min., is rated PG-13 and is playing in all theatres.

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Kevin Chang. Kevin Chang was born on April 28, 1985. This makes him a bull, and coincidentally, a Taurus. Somehow, he ended up in the Magnet program at Montgomery Blair High School, where he is now a SENIOR! 03! Yes, he is a geek. He is often … More »

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