thatcow

Disappointing

For a film based upon disabusing the "Shallow" notions of its title character, this movie disappointingly lacks any real depth. The premise,as well publicized, has Hal (Jack Black) being hypnotized by Tony Robbins to get over his lookism issues - at this point, Hal didn't feel like he had such issues, but being stuck in an elevator with a so-called "self-help guru" quickly led to the diagnosis. After a short string of surprisingly good encounters, Hal encounters Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow) and falls in love. Rosemary is, at first, unbelieving and it doesn't take long to figure out why - she is actually rather obese when all Hal sees is, well, Hollywood-slim Gwyneth. The situation is mined heartily for humor, and nobody is surprised when the nascent relationship hits some bumps along the way.

Hal is counseled by the possibly shallower Mauricio (Jason Alexander) - a kind of devil-on-his-shoulder character, or minimally a reflection of Hal's former self. There's also an unlikely-for-Hollywood supporting cast, which is a bit in the Farrelly brothers' style, but in this case is almost a disservice as they are principly used to underscore the theme, and hardly appear to have any lives outside that purpose.

Paltrow's courage to take on new roles is to be applauded. Much has been made from her scenes in the fat-suit, and even her research from wearing it in public. All that is great, but I find myself listening to her speak in the film and realizing her performance has been forced to revolve around just a single character trait, when there could have been so much more to it. I want to say the script concerns itself, perhaps rightly, with Hal, but at the same time, there's not a whole lot of character traits working for him here either.

The film does consistently support its premise, and for that perhaps it deserves a reluctant nod, but there is little variance in how the message is delivered and it simply gets old quickly. I rather wanted to like Shallow Hal, and while the filmmakers may have accomplished what they set out to achieve, it's not enough for me here.

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