What You Need To Know:
Directed by the Farrelly brothers, who produced DUMB AND DUMBER and THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, SHALLOW HAL is a moderately successful romantic comedy. Although Hal gets a personality makeover in the story, his character is still somewhat shallow, until the end. Much of the movie’s jokes rely upon him getting extremely upset when everyone around him, including Rosemary and her father, keep making strange comments about Rosemary’s lack of beauty and bad self-image. Also, an early scene in the movie mocks Christianity, and the movie contains some foul language and an immoral attitude toward pre-marital sex. Despite some positive moral and redemptive elements, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® cannot recommend SHALLOW HAL.
(RoRo, B, C, AbAb, LLL, V, S, NN, A, M) Romantic worldview with some moral & redemptive elements but an anti-Christian first scene that sets up the movie’s comical premise; 21 obscenities, 2 strong profanities, 7 mild profanities, & mild body humor; some mild physical comedy, such as very overweight woman jumps into swimming pool, causing boy to fly & land in tree; implied fornication; partial male nudity & rear female nudity in implied sex scene; alcohol use & a couple scenes set in discos; no smoking; and, jokes about overweight people & disabled people, including handicapped man enjoys making self-deprecating jokes about his condition.
Jack Black of HIGH FIDELITY plays the title role in SHALLOW HAL. The movie opens with Hal as a young boy visiting his father on his deathbed. The father is a Christian pastor with an open Bible by his bed, but is delirious from painkillers. The father tells little Hal not to marry for love but to marry someone with a nice rear-end and big breasts. Then, he dies.
Years later, Hal is a shallow, slightly chubby young man searching for love in all the wrong places. He goes to discos trying to dance with only the most beautiful girls, all of whom want nothing to do with him. His friend Mauricio, played by Jason Alexander of TV’s SEINFELD, does the same thing.
Hal accidentally gets stuck in an elevator with self-help, New Age guru Tony Robbins. Tony, after hearing about Hal’s failed with relationships with beautiful women, hypnotizes him into picking women based on their “inner beauty” instead. Later, Hal falls in love with a very overweight blonde woman coming out of his office building. Hal, of course, thinks Rosemary looks like a beautiful, thin Gwyneth Paltrow. Rosemary turns out to be the daughter of Hal’s boss. Hal convinces his boss that he really loves Rosemary. Hal also has some good business ideas. Both of these things gain Hal a big promotion at work.
Of course, Mauricio doesn’t understand Hal’s obsession with such an overweight gal. He finally realizes that Tony Robbins is the culprit, so he tries to de-hypnotize Hal. For the first time in his life, however, Hal is truly happy. Happily, true romantic love wins the day.
Directed by the Farrelly brothers, who did DUMB AND DUMBER, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and ME, MYSELF AND IRENE, SHALLOW HAL is a moderately successful romantic comedy. Jack Black, who plays Hal, might be better suited as a supporting character, but he’s not given much to work with in this one-dimensional movie. Gwyneth Paltrow has the greater acting challenge – how to play beautiful while at the same time acting like a hugely overweight woman who, for the first time in her life, has someone throwing compliments her way.
Of course, although Hal gets a personality makeover in the story, his character is still somewhat shallow, until the end. Much of the movie’s jokes rely upon him getting extremely upset when everyone around him, including Rosemary and her father, make strange comments about Rosemary’s lack of beauty and bad self-image. Also, the setup for the movie, with Hal’s Christian father, is an attempt to mock Christians in a cruel manner. Admittedly, there are many hypocrites in the Church, but that’s true of any other belief system you might care to name. A better redemptive satire would point out the hypocrisy in a friendly manner, while attempting to provide a positive correction for sin, as well as giving some indication of God’s divine ideal. As Paul says in the Book of Galatians in the New Testament, the only thing that counts is faith exercising itself through love. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the antidote to our sin nature, but we won’t be fully and truly sanctified until we enter God’s Eternal Rest. SHALLOW HAL is a case of Romantic redemption, not the true redemption that comes through a saving faith in Christ. It also includes an immoral attitude toward pre-marital sex and a fair amount of foul language, although much of that is mild.