Shallow Hal

Shallow Hal ★★★

This movie fundamentally does not and cannot work. The depiction of “inner beauty” as tall and thin is inherently problematic, even if you view it generously as through Hal’s perception of what beauty is. It’s just too messy even if portrayed in the best possible way. 

And…I think this movie kind of comes close to the best possible way. I think it makes huge mistakes - some of the larger bodies are shot to look pretty grotesque - but broadly, I think it wants to be sweet before it wants to be mean or even snarky. Most of the gags about Gwyneth’s weight are so silly and exaggerated, they are from another reality, and when it is something more grounded (like a chair collapsing under her), it’s played for empathy rather than laughs. What I’m getting at is, they clearly were making an effort. 

Find me after I’ve had a couple of drinks and I can tell you how I think this could work either on stage or as an experimental art film.