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Also available to rent in UK -
Fox Pathé video or DVD Region 2
[released 12 August]

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August 2002                                                  SITE MAP   SEARCH
Shallow Hal
cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jack Black, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, and Susan Ward

directors: Bobby and Peter Farrelly

114 minutes (PG-13) 2001
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
CBS Fox DVD Region 1 rental

RATING: 10/10
reviewed by Amy C. Adair
Shallow Hal is a modern-day fairy tale that presents an important message about our perceptions of beauty, with an outrageously comedic Farrelly brothers twist. From the guys who brought us There's Something About Mary, Dumb And Dumber, and Me, Myself, And Irene comes perhaps their most emotionally charged work yet. This is the story of Hal Larson (played by the always lovable Jack Black), a boy whose father's last drug-induced advice was to go out with only the most attractive women. As an adult, he unconsciously obeys this advice, and pursues only women who are clearly 'out of his league'. His best friend Mauricio (played by Jason Alexander) joins him in this quest for the perfect woman. Hal's whole world is shaken up when he meet self-help guru Tony Robbins while they are both stuck in an elevator. Robbins wants to help Hal, and puts a kind of 'magic spell' on him so he sees only the inner beauty of people. When Hal meets Rosemary, he sees her as slender Gwyneth Paltrow, while in actuality she weighs over 300 pounds. Her inner beauty and love for people is clear when Hal gets to know her; she is in the Peace Corps, she volunteers at the hospital in her free time, and she gives a homeless man her left over sandwich. The love story between Hal and Rosemary progresses nicely, and Paltrow and Black have great on-screen chemistry. Hal is happy until the meddling Mauricio steps in and approaches Tony Robbins, managing to reverse the spell. Then Hal must face his feelings for Rosemary as a person, physicality aside.
   The supporting cast adds nicely to both the comedy and the plot. The Farrelly brothers chose acting virgin Rene Kirby to play Walt, Hal's friend who, because of a physical handicap, walks on all fours. The actor has had spina bifida since birth, and charmed the Farrelly brothers while they were filming Me, Myself, And Irene. He plays his part well, and some of the funniest moments are in his credit. Jack Black's real-life girlfriend (comedian Laura Kightlinger) and Tenacious D band-mate (Kyle Gass) play his work buddies, and offset his shallower friend, Mauricio, well.
   The great thing about this movie is that it's not afraid to laugh at life, while still holding reverence for it. In the much-previewed scene where Rosemary jumps into the pool and propels a little boy into a tree, Rosemary thinks it is funny, even though it embarrasses her. Walt's character isn't afraid to pop a few jokes at his expense (in fact, he is the most popular guy at their local bar). The characters do not become caricatures or cartoons; instead, they are real, developed, and funny as hell. This movie rocks, if for no other reason than its honesty and fearlessness.
   DVD extras: lots of deleted scenes (many of which should have made it into the movie), a slightly annoying HBO special with actress Brooke Burns, Comedy Central Special with interviews from Jack Black, Jason Alexander, and Gwyneth Paltrow, making of special that shows all the work put into making Gwyneth fat (and how people reacted to her in the hotel), among others.
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