Retro Review: Shallow Hal

“Shallow Hal” is the latest film from  the Farrelly Brothers, which tries to debate the issue about “beauty lying in the eye of the beholder”.

Jack Black stars as Hal, a self-absorbed and shallow ladies man, who really doesn’t have a clue when it comes to the opposite sex.

One freakish day, he gets locked in an elevator with “self-help guru” Tony Robbins who tells him that beautiful women aren’t always as beautiful as their outer looks would depict.

He tells Hal that he will unlock him from a deep sleep and he will see people through their inner beauty.

Hal wanders out into the world a changed man as he starts going out with “ugly” women who have beautiful insides. Hal’s friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander) is baffled to why his friend wants to date such “ugly” women especially when he hooks up with 300 pound Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow).

“Shallow Hal” tries very hard to deliver a debate on beauty and I do admire its attempt to do so.

On one hand it delivers an interesting argument but on the other it falls face flat into Hollywood’s stereotyping of women.

The film’s good argument is that we as people only see what is skin deep and nothing beyond. But where is falls flat is that it never shows a person who has an inner and outer beauty which are the same. Are we all just shells hiding some other being within? When his hypnotism is lifted Hal doesn’t recognize all the people he met under the hypnosis, why does this not occur when he was under the hypnosis? Also why does this phenomena only work on certain people? Shouldn’t Hal be seeing the entire world as different?

For what Gwyneth had to work with I do think she did a lovely job especially with her insecurities. I liked how she would question Black and his intentions. Her meek and pulled back approach is probably very close to what her character would be going through. I also liked Jason Alexander as Black’s buddy.

I have to say all the laughs in this film are in the trailer and the rest of the film is presented almost like a “light-hearted” debate. I am not sure if this film will alienate or hurt anyone but I am sure it will make some people uncomfortable.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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