Theatrical film poster
Peter Farrelly |
Charles B. Wessler
|Edited by||Christopher Greenbury|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$141.1 million|
Shallow Hal is a 2001 American romantic comedy film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black about a shallow man who, after hypnosis, begins to see people's inner beauty reflected in their outward appearance. The motion picture was directed by the Farrelly brothers and filmed in and around Charlotte as well as Sterling and Princeton, Massachusetts at Wachusett Mountain. The supporting cast features Jason Alexander, Tony Robbins (as himself), and Laura Kightlinger.
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Hal Larson (Jack Black) is a nice guy, but he has one flaw: he is a superficial man whose fixation on the physical beauty of women gets in the way of seeing their inner beauty. Hal and his equally shallow friend, Mauricio (Jason Alexander), spend their nights obnoxiously hitting on beautiful women at nightclubs and mostly they end up getting rejected. Hal's work life is steady, but he is dismayed after being passed over for a long-sought promotion. His love life is non-existent, as seen when he tries to ask Jill, his attractive neighbor, out for a date. Jill is not interested as she finds Hal too shallow and is not attracted to him.
Hal becomes trapped in an elevator with famous American life coach Tony Robbins. While waiting for the elevator to be fixed, Robbins sympathizes with Hal's disappointment but tries to figure out his ideas about women. He hypnotizes Hal into only seeing a person's inner beauty. Hal does not realize he's been hypnotized and later meets Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow), daughter of the president of the company where he is employed. Rosemary is morbidly obese, but Hal sees a slender and beautiful trophy blonde. He is immediately smitten by her. His boss is not certain about Hal dating his daughter, thinking that Hal may be trying to climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Used to being overlooked due to her appearance, Rosemary initially interprets Hal's interest as mocking, but begins to realize his feelings for her are sincere. After apologizing to him, they begin to date, which includes a bike ride with Walt (Rene Kirby).
Mauricio, worried about Hal's new taste in women, convinces Robbins to give him the trigger phrase to undo the hypnosis, which is "Shallow Hal wants a gal". While on a date in a restaurant, Rosemary tells Hal she's been asked by the Peace Corps to go on a 14-month mission in Kiribati. Mauricio phones Hal and says the trigger phrase, breaking Hal's hypnosis. Mauricio confesses to Hal the truth about Robbins' hypnotherapy, but Hal does not believe it until he runs into a woman who initially appeared beautiful to him but whom Hal now sees in her true, physically unattractive state.
Hal begins to avoid Rosemary, who becomes melancholic without him around. Distraught that he was not seeing the "real" Rosemary, Hal accepts a dinner invitation from his neighbor, Jill. The two dine together and Jill tells Hal that she has observed him overcoming his shallow nature and is interested in dating him now.
Hal realizes his true feelings for Rosemary who has, coincidentally, arrived at the same restaurant with her family and sees Hal and Jill sitting together. Assuming the worst, Rosemary leaves in tears. Not recognizing Rosemary, Hal walks right by her on his way to a payphone to reassure her of his feelings. Confused and distraught, Rosemary calls Hal a "psycho" over the phone and effectively breaks up with him.
Five days later, Steve informs Hal that Rosemary's Peace Corps partner, Ralph, wants to be in a relationship with her again. Hal attempts to find Rosemary, but instead encounters a young patient named Cadence at the hospital where Rosemary volunteers. Previously, due to Robbins' hypnosis, Hal saw Cadence as a perfect little girl; he now sees that there are severe burns all over Cadence's face. Inspired by Cadence, Hal changes his views on the physical appearances of people in general.
Hal, during his search for Rosemary, finds that Mauricio had his own reason for stopping Hal's hypnosis: He has an inoperable vestigial tail, which has prevented him from ever getting close to a woman. Mauricio confesses he was jealous of Hal's happiness and is afraid to start a relationship with a woman. Hal convinces Mauricio to accept his abnormality, with confidence.
Hal makes up with Mauricio and decides to reconcile with Rosemary. He heads to the Peace Corps recruiting office and confronts Ralph, believing he and Rosemary got back together. Ralph informs Hal that he and Rosemary are not together and that Rosemary's parents are throwing her a farewell party (and Ralph wasn't invited). Hal, Mauricio, Ralph and Ralph's friend Li'iBoy arrive at the home of Rosemary's parents. Rosemary initially rebuffs Hal's presence, but then accepts his apology when Hal professes his love for her. Rosemary informs Hal she is still leaving on her Peace Corps mission. Hal says he is coming, too, having just been sworn into the Peace Corps by Li'iBoy.
Hal and Rosemary reconcile, cheered by the crowd as they kiss. He tries to carry her bridal-style to the car, but finds he cannot lift her, so she triumphantly carries him instead. As they drive off, Mauricio meets a woman who loves dogs and the two walk off together as he wags his "tail".
The Farrelly Brothers admitted that this was a little bit different from some of their previous comedies, but as with all their movies they like for the audience to feel a connection with each of the characters. Shallow Hal was a more emotional movie and the producers spent a lot of time trying to ensure it would not be portrayed as a mere "fat joke" type of movie, but one that has a strong message associated with it.
Gwyneth Paltrow played both roles, slim and fat Rosemary (except for a couple of close-up shots of fat Rosemary below the neck, which were played by her body double Ivy Snitzer), and had to wear a specially designed 25 pound fatsuit and encapsulating prosthetic make-up. She has since admitted that she did not enjoy partaking in production of the movie, in particular dreading having to wear the fat suit and makeup. The prosthetic make-up effects and body suits for Rosemary, Rosemary's mother, and all of the secondary characters were designed and created by Tony Gardner and his company Alterian, Inc.
In its opening weekend at the U.S. box office, Shallow Hal grossed $22.5 million, opening at #2 behind Monsters, Inc.. It grossed a total of $141.1 million, of which $70.7 million was in the United States.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 51%, based on 126 reviews, and an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While surprisingly sweeter and warm-hearted than previous Farrelly outings, Shallow Hal is also less funny and more bland."