ninth symphony films - movie reviews

SHALLOW HAL (2001)


DIRECTOR  -  the farrelly bros.

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  113 minutes

RELEASED  -  9 november 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century foy

OFFICIAL SITE  -  shallow hal

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $40,000,000
shallow hal - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from shallow hal at amazon.com

buy the dvd from shallow hal at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
a shallow man falls in love with a 300 pound woman because of her "inner beauty."




MOVIE FACT:
revealing mistakes: when hal is riding in the jeep, the key in the ignition is not turned on.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from shallow hal

picture from shallow hal

picture from shallow hal



RATING:


two out of four possible stars

After a slow start, this film picks up and eventually becomes something mildly amusing and only slightly reminiscent of a Farrelly brothers movie. Of course, there is some of the usual crass humor so common in Farrelly brothers films, but with a little effort, the filmmakers here have created a movie which won't leave you squirming in your seat. And though the humor is not always funny, and the story is sometimes slow, this film is a big achievement for a couple of directors whose claim to fame includes a scene with a zipper. This film does not start out at a run though.

It almost saunters for about a half an hour before it becomes an engaging movie. Begining with a few minutes spent on the sad history of Jack Black's character of "Hal," this movie has a quiet and slow beginning. Molly Shannon has a small supporting role as the nine year old Hal's mother. And while her performance is supposed to be serious, her acting hovers somewhere between the serious and the not-funny-humorous. Perhaps she's trying to spread her acting wings by accepting roles where she's supposed to be serious, but grabbing a role in a farrelly brothers movie doesn't seem to be the best way of going about it.

So after a start where, for the first thirty minutes or so, the plot hums along nicely, but without a lot of laughs. When I saw this film, I was in an audience of about fifty people, and could tell that the jokes up on the screen weren't always that funny, because the audience was pretty silent. Frankly, this film doesn't pick up until Gwyneth Paltrow makes her entrance as "Rosemary," the vertically challenged girl who carries around about 250 extra pounds. It seems that although Jack Black has a penchant for stealing the spotlight, as he nearly did in High Fidelity, he isn't quite capable of inhabiting the spotlight in this film.

Two hours of Jack Black might be funny in theory, but, much to my surprise, I didn't always laugh at Jack's comedy. The Farrelly brothers though landed with a good casting director when they hired Gwyneth Paltrow to play the role of Rosemary. Her character was sweet without being melodramatic and her nack for comedy was natural. I can't say the same for Jason Alexander's character of "Mauricio" seemed to be a carbon copy of his character from Seinfeld. In fact, this character was also a lot like his performance in Pretty Woman.

And although this character has worked for him before, it was hard to see him as anything else than costanza. He even complained the same and used the familiar "George" hand gestures that seemed, on Seinfeld, likely to poke somebody's eye out. Perhaps the Farrelly brothers were going for the Costanza character in this film. This is definitely one of those "life's greatest lessons" movies, and the story doesn't waste any time trying to tell that to the audience. But the message is a sincere one, even if it's been given the farrelly treatment. One problem with this approach though is that the screenplay was given the "obvious treatment."

During the movie, I noticed that the film didn't have any twists or turns or anything surprising. It relied entirely on the acting of the characters and their interactions together. And about half the time, this is sufficient. But, as I mentioned before, there are spots in this film, especially in the first half hour of the movie, where the comedy just isn't funny. And this, combined with a script whose destination was obvious, made the film lag in some spots. But the whole movie isn't a snore fest. In fact, most of the time, the people in this film are pretty funny. And the fact that the directors stayed away from the vulgar humor so common in their other films, allowed the film to be somewhat innocent at times.

The story brought to mind one of those ABC after school specials where the motto is practically branded on the screen at the end of the film. But all this aside, this film owes its mild success to the good casting of its lead actress. Gwyneth's performance is the reason to see this movie. On a final note, the previews for this film stressed the comedy of Jack Black and the humorous situations that the Hal's hypnosis was not the defining factor of this film.

Trying to impress its message upon the audience, this film seeks to make some sort of statement of the treatment of fat people and the public's perception over obese people in today's society. This is a pretty heavy subject to deal with, especially through the guise of comedy. It is probably fortunate that the farrelly brothers have moved in to this drama/comedy genre, rather than continuing with their straight gross-out comedies. And although their attempt is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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