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Shallow Hal

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Hal (Jack Black), taking his dying father's advice, dates only the embodiments of female physical perfection. But that all changes after Hal has an unexpected run-in with self-help guru Tony Robbins (himself). Intrigued by Hal's shallowness, Tony hypnotises him into seeing the inner beauty of even the least physically appealing of women. Hal is smitten after meeting the obese and homely Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow), as he translates her kindness and humour into physical perfection. After Hal's equally shallow friend, Mauricio (Jason Alexander), undoes the hypnosis, Hal must face an unrecognisable Rosemary and make a fateful decision.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Shallow Hal image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film romantic comedy fat obese chick hypnosis Farrelly brothers

Persons of interest

  • Jack Black .... Hal
  • Gwyneth Paltrow .... Rosemary
  • Jason Alexander .... Mauricio
  • Tony Robbins .... Tony Robbins
  • Susan Ward .... Jill
  • Rene Kirby .... Walt
  • Joe Viterelli .... Steve Shanahan
  • Jill Fitzgerald .... Mrs Shanahan
  • Peter Farrelly .... Screenwriter
  • Bobby Farrelly .... Screenwriter
  • Peter Farrelly .... Director
  • Bobby Farrelly .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

  • Shallow Hal official movie site
  • Shallow Hal QuickTime movie trailers
  • Studios and distributors:

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Now just forget the premise, that you can know that someone is a good person and see them as beautiful without having ever met them, and go along for the ride. Shallow Hal is a "what if" romantic comedy and they don't have to follow the rules of normal space and time (See also Sliding doors).

Jack is the perfect wanker's wanker. He has absolutely no time for a woman unless she is a sex object and all women are sex objects to one degree or another. Jason is the wanker's sidekick. Kind of like he was in Seinfeld but this isn't Seinfeld. Together they are a two-man tag team from hell. They are the king jerks of Jerk Island.

Jack's downfall and uprise are the basis of the plot structure and that actually manages to make the film watchable. Knowing that he's falling, as you the audience does, keeps you interested. The uprise is just the carrot at the end of the stick. Along the way there's some really funny stuff, including the perfectly legitimate excuse to laugh at fat jokes without feeling guilty about being mean to people, because it's just a film. Gwyneth does a good characterisation for Rosemary (why don't people call their kids oregano, or parsley?), particularly when she's in the skinny body: she behaves just as fat as when she's in the fat body. It's an important yet subtle piece of acting. Not that it makes up for that Oscars acceptance speech.


All in all, Shallow Hal is a funny film with a pretty blatant message. It can afford to lose a few minutes (say, fifteen) but you'll get your money's worth if you're on a date. Whatever you do, don't tell your girlfriend that her bum looks fat in that dress and never say, "I like you just the way you are". She may pretend to be a free-thinking, fully menstruating woman of the new millennium but deep down she's just a Cleo-worshipping office chick.

PS: Watch the end credits for the first opportunity to look at the crew who made a film.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Disc: Single side, single layer
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen 16:9 enhanced
  • Subtitles: English

Security censorship classification

M (Low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

113 minutes (1:53 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 1 January 2002
DVD rental: 15 May 2002
VHS rental: 15 May 2002
DVD retail: 13 September 2002
VHS retail: 13 September 2002

Cinema surveillance images

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