Shallow Hal Review

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Hal Larsen only ever dates beautiful, vacuous women until a chance meeting with a self-help guru, who helps him to see inner beauty. Soon after, he falls in love with his boss’ 300lb daughter.


After the major misfire that was Me, Myself & Irene, the world woke up to the fact that the Farrelly brothers were turning into something of a one-trick pony — after all, there’s only so much gross-out comedy the filmgoing public can stomach. The good news is that Shallow Hal is an improvement.

While it retains the sweetness that made There’s Something About Mary such a joy, the siblings have stripped the baser elements in favour of something a tad more subtle.

Had this film been made four or five years ago, it would have taken every opportunity to poke fun at Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat-suit. Here, though, the comedy is altogether more good-natured, and while it may not represent a huge development in the Farrellys’ career as filmmakers, the palpable shift in tone suggests they may have matured ever so slightly.

Paltrow, filling the loveable blonde role that’s become synonymous with Farrelly films, once again gets a chance to show off her impeccable comic timing. Black, meanwhile, handles the role well, although the fact that he is hardly conventional leading man material leaves you wondering how he is able to date a string of beauties in the first place.

It’s ultimately Jason Alexander who steals the film from both — in the comedy sidekick role Black is more used to inhabiting — as Hal’s best buddy who’s hiding a bizarre secret of his own. There are few big laughs here, virtually no major set-pieces (save for the hilarious swimming pool sequence), and an ending as predictable as they come.

However, in a film industry where women over a size six are classed as “fat”, it’s a pleasure to see a movie that openly celebrates girth and reminds us that you don’t necessarily have to be rake-thin to be successful and happy.

A bit hit and miss, and devotees of the siblings’ more adolescent work might be left wanting. But its leads make it consistently enjoyable.