By Glenn Ferrara
Hold on just a minute, I’m trying to think of something nice to say about “Shallow Hal.”
Forget it, I give up. There is nothing to say, other than, this is the worst movie the Farrelly brothers (directors Peter and Bobby) have ever made. In fact, “Shallow Hal” is such a dud it makes their last film, another stinker, “Me Myself and Irene” look like “Lawrence of Arabia.”
Have you seen “Little Nicky,” “Dude Where’s My Car?” or “Deuce Bigelow”? They are monumental achievements in comparison. Why are all these hardly outstanding films leagues above “Hal”?
Three words: They had jokes. Those movies tried, albeit poorly, to be funny. They had jokes and gags. Shallow Hal has, maybe, seven or eight jokes in the entire film. And if you count the same joke repeated (Gwyneth Paltrow looks thin, but she’s really fat, ha ha.) then the number drops to two or three. It’s a comedy without any comedy.
If you’ve seen a commercial or trailer for “Shallow Hal,” then you know everything that goes on. Jack Black (“High Fidelity”) plays Hal, who acts on his fathers dying words and peruses only super attractive women. When gorilla-like self-help guru, Tony Robbins hears about this, he hypnotizes Hal into seeing gals’ inner beauty. Now every ugly person is attractive (since all ugly people are nice in the inside) which leads Hal to fall in love with Gwyneth Paltrow (“Bounce”).
Now, here’s the big joke of the film: Gwyneth looks attractively slender to Hal, but actually she’s 300 pounds. She’s so fat that furniture breaks when she sits down, and when she jumps into a pool, she causes a tidal wave. The same joke, she’s fat, he doesn’t know it, drags on through the whole film, until the overly sappy ending where Hal realizes that big can also be beautiful ( that’s not a spoiler by the way, since if you didn’t see that coming then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.)
You wouldn’t expect something this bland from the Farrelly Brothers. The pair are responsibly for creating the “gross-out” genre of comedy with films like “Dumb and Dumber” (1994), “Kingpin” (1996), “There’s Something About Mary” (1998), and “Me, Myself and Irene” (2000). With amusing films like those on their resume they are obviously capable of much better. Maybe it’s time for the brothers to go back and watch their old films and try to remember how to be funny.
— before the audience forgets.
Reach Qguide reviewer Glenn Ferrara by e-mail at Timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.