Shallow Hal

Movie Review by Susannah Macklin

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jack Black, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, Susan Ward

Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

It’s been quite a year for the Farrellys! SAY IT ISN’T SO plopped down the proverbial box office toilet taking more than just their humour with it, giving the impression that Bobby’s and Peter’s time as the neo gross-out kings of Hollywood could well be up. But this latest offering could once again change all that.

The movie tells the story of Hal Larsen (Jack Black) a man among the most irritating of species – a seriously average guy who thinks that most women aren’t good enough for him! If he’s not worrying about a woman with an out of place hair or slightly elongated toe, then Hal and best bud Mauricio (Jason Alexander) are busy criticising their way through relationships about as deep as a puddle. It’s when Hal has a chance encounter with a life-enhancing guru in a lift, that everything suddenly takes a dramatic turn. His ability to meet beautiful women triples and everyone appears more aesthetically pleasing to his very selective eye. Not least the stunning and cool Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow). But there’s something about Rosemary – and as people are quick to point out, she’s quite different to Hals previous crushes. So much so in fact, that as he starts to wake up to himself, Hal begins to realise he could be in for a huge surprise!

Sort of a THE TAO OF STEVE meets DUMB AND DUMBER, the result is one of the finest comedies to hit the screens in at least the last five years. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and in good old fashioned Farrelly form hits the nerve of every politically incorrect funny bone. Obesity and deformity are all made fair game, but they’ve tried hard not to go down the cruelty for the sake of comedy route. Though don’t be deceived, although this admittedly has a more knowing edge – it isn’t stylish humour by any stretch of the imagination!

It’s refreshing to see a hilariously self-deprecating Gwyneth Paltrow take the edge off her stuffy star persona. But the real scene stealer is Jack Black, superb in this his first title role and totally believable as a man who although no where near perfect, thinks his pulling power stands up to that of Tom Cruise! In fact if all things are equal then SHALLOW HAL should do for Black what THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY did for a then relatively unknown Ben Stiller. So ignore any inevitable comparisons to dismal Farrelly imitators. Hal may be shallow, but comedically he’s flawless.

5 out of 6 stars

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