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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English - Hearing Impaired
    Shallow Hal (Rental)
    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 109 mins . M15+ . PAL


    Hal (Jack Black from High Fidelity) is basically a nice guy, but when it comes to dating he is a superficial dick wad. His attitude whereby beauty is only judged by what’s visible to the outside world is probably in some ways attributable to his father, whose parting words on dying in a drugged up stupor when Hal was just nine years old were that he should never marry for love, rather he should “go for the hot young tail”. Still, when judged by the same standards Hal’s certainly no oil painting, as indeed his friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander, complete with the worst toupee ever seen by human – in fact any - eyes) also most definitely is not.

    Things change substantially for Hal on a chance meeting with banana-handed TV motivational self-help guru Tony Robbins in an elevator, who puts some sort of whammy on him which makes him see reflections of peoples' inner beauty – so even those who some may say were brutally bashed to near death with an ugly stick can appear as god or goddess-like due to that which shines within them. Cue a meeting with Rosemary, a sweet hospital volunteer and Peace Corps member, who to Hal bears a striking resemblance to Gwyneth Paltrow, whilst the rest of the world sees her as a somewhat big-boned lass.

    Needless to say the phenomenally vacuous Mauricio thinks Hal’s gone seriously cuckoo as he waxes lyrical about how utterly gorgeous Rosemary is and excitedly romances her, who after initial worries as to Hal’s sincerity comes around to simply lap up the deserved, but hitherto unexperienced, attention she’s receiving. Mauricio’s suspicion gets the better of him, so he sets out to find just what is going on, while others in Hal’s orbit believe it’s all simply a ploy to advance his station in the workplace, as Rosemary is the daughter of their big boss. Either way, the fact remains that Hal and Rosemary are happy, and it is only the interference of others that ends up causing problems for the couple, especially when Mauricio convinces Tony Robbins to divulge the magic words that will return Hal to his former state...

    Considering Shallow Hal comes from the Farrelly brothers, hardly renowned as purveyors of fine taste with a canon of past works that all managed to tread a thin line between the funny and outright cruel, including the extremely stupid, yet aptly titled Dumb and Dumber, the tasteless but often undeniably clever and funny There’s Something About Mary and the simply execrable gross-out pile of crap that was Me, Myself and Irene, it is actually a film which at times borders on being (gulp!) sweet. Much fuss was made over Gwynnie’s donning of a “fat suit” for her role as Rosemary, yet the irony is that we scarcely see her in it. I guess you don’t hire her and then have her looking unlike she does naturally for almost the entirety of a film – it wouldn’t ‘test’ well. Still, the combination of views of Rosie as Hal sees her and how the world sees her that we get does actually make sense in the big scheme of things when it comes to the latter part of the film, so we’ll extend some benefit of the doubt to the Messrs Farrelly on this occasion.

    In the end, even contemplating such a premise as Shallow Hal involves was just asking for an outcry from certain parts of the community, many of whom reacted to their own assumptions about things rather than even seeing the film (hmm, does this remind you of any recent censorship events in Australia?). This isn’t to defend it entirely, as in the end how you receive the film depends very much on your own attitudes and receptiveness to the message within. Whilst it basically seems to be saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover as you never know what you may be missing out on” – something all of us SHOULD know instinctively - many will no doubt sadly have this sail above their heads completely and will simply find the numerous fat jokes that are here for the taking uproariously funny. Mission un-accomplished then...


    Being a rental-only, barer than Mother Hubbard’s cupboard DVD, in so far as you get the movie and nothing else besides a generic Fox menu with a Shallow Hal picture sticky-taped upon it, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to hear that all 109 minutes are squished onto a single layered disc. Despite this the picture is still pretty good, displaying decent colour and detail, good picture quality in low light and virtually nothing in the way of specks, scratches, aliasing and the like. If you’re grabbing it for a night’s rental then there’s certainly nothing to complain about.

    The only option audio-wise is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and it too does a perfectly decent, if unremarkable job – the latter being more due to the nature of the film and its general lack of anything vaguely bombastic in the sonic department rather than anything else. All dialogue is clear and well-synched, so once again you can’t really ask for much more. The general soundtrack is provided by Ivy, another project of Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne fame (he also did the fabby theme to That Thing You Do!), and it shares the soundstage with an eclectic assortment of songs from the likes of more old school artists such as Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck, The Foundations and (inevitably) Edison Lighthouse to “cooler” acts such as PJ Harvey, Scottish Smiths-obsessives Belle & Sebastian and also Cake – the latter inclusion actually being one of the funniest jokes in the movie all things considered, and it possibly wasn’t even intentional...

    As mentioned earlier, extras-junkies are going to be left somewhat strung out if picking this up for a viewing, although in the past when Fox rental titles such as this have hit the shelves as retail versions a few months later the additional features have generally been of good quality – we’ll just have to wait and see.

    In the end, Shallow Hal may just leave Farrelly fans a tad miffed, as it certainly isn’t as ‘gross’ as their previous outings, and it tends to just meander along at a gentle and reasonably uneventful canter. Still, it’s an OK, if slight, comedic diversion, and if it makes even one bogan dickhead out there think twice before hanging out of their Commodore window and yelling abuse at somebody overweight, unconventional or simply deemed ugly in their eyes then it more than justifies its existence...

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1562
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  •   And I quote...
    "A film from the Farrelly Brothers which at times borders on being (gulp!) sweet..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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