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Shallow Hal

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Shallow Hal
A thin woman and a man hold hands, but her shadow against the wall is much larger than it should be
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
  • Peter Farrelly
  • Bobby Farrelly
  • Sean Moynihan
Produced by
CinematographyRussell Carpenter
Edited byChristopher Greenbury
Music by
  • William Goodrum
  • Ivy
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • November 9, 2001 (2001-11-09)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[1]
Box office$141.1 million[2]

Shallow Hal is a 2001 American romantic comedy film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black about a man who falls in love with a 300-pound woman after being hypnotized into only seeing a person's inner beauty. Directed by the Farrelly brothers, it was filmed in and around Charlotte, North Carolina as well as Sterling and Princeton, Massachusetts at Wachusett Mountain.[3] The supporting cast features Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, and Susan Ward. Shallow Hal was released in theaters on November 9, 2001 by 20th Century Fox, and grossed $141 million against a $40 million budget.


Hal Larson spends his nights being rejected by beautiful women at night clubs with his friend Mauricio. He holds a steady job at JPS Funds, a financial institution run by president Steve Shanahan, but is dismayed after being denied a long-sought promotion. Hal is attracted to his neighbor Jill, but she rejects him due to his shallow lifestyle. One day, Hal becomes trapped in an elevator with life coach Tony Robbins, who hypnotizes him into only seeing a person's inner beauty. Hal, not realizing he has been hypnotized, later meets Steve's daughter, Rosemary. Rosemary is morbidly obese, but because of her kind and generous personality, she appears to Hal as a slender and beautiful trophy blonde and he is instantly smitten with her. Used to being overlooked due to her appearance, Rosemary initially interprets Hal's interest as mockery, but soon realizes his feelings for her are sincere and they begin to date.

Mauricio, worried about Hal's new taste in women, convinces Tony to give him the trigger phrase to undo the hypnosis, which is "Shallow Hal wants a gal". During a dinner date, Rosemary tells Hal she has been asked by the Peace Corps to go on a 14-month mission in Kiribati. Mauricio phones Hal and says the trigger phrase, breaking the hypnosis. Mauricio then arrives at the restaurant and drags Hal out before he can see the real Rosemary, before telling him the truth about Tony's hypnotherapy. Hal does not believe him until he runs into Katrina, a woman who initially appeared beautiful to him, but whom he now sees in her true, physically unattractive state. Hal begins to avoid Rosemary, who becomes depressed as a result. Jill, having observed Hal overcoming his shallow nature through his relationship with Rosemary, develops an interest in him and invites him out for dinner. While on the date with Jill, Hal realizes his true feelings for Rosemary who has, coincidentally, arrived at the same restaurant with her family and sees the two sitting together. Assuming the worst, Rosemary leaves in tears. Not recognizing Rosemary, Hal walks right by her on his way to a payphone to call her and reassure her of his feelings. Confused and distraught, Rosemary insults him and effectively breaks up with him.

Five days later, Steve informs Hal that Rosemary’s ex-boyfriend and 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. Due to the hypnosis, Hal had previously seen Cadence as a perfect little girl, but now sees that she is covered in burn scars. This changes Hal's views on outer beauty in general and inspires him to go after Rosemary. Mauricio confesses that he stopped Hal's hypnosis out of envy towards his happiness, and confesses that he has an inoperable vestigial tail which has prevented him from ever getting close to a woman. Hal convinces Mauricio to embrace his abnormality.

Hal heads to the Peace Corps recruiting office and confronts Ralph, believing he and Rosemary have gotten back together. Ralph informs Hal that he and Rosemary are not together and that Rosemary's parents are throwing her a farewell party (to which Ralph was not invited). Hal, Mauricio, and Ralph arrive at the home of Rosemary's parents. Rosemary initially rebuffs Hal's presence, but 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 Ralph's friend Li'iBoy. Hal and Rosemary reconcile, and he tries to carry her bridal-style to the car, but finds he cannot lift her. Moved by his gesture and effort, 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.




Writer Sean Moynihan is legally blind and was inspired by Tony Robbins to write the script. Earlier versions of the story did not include Robbins' character; instead, a psychic was responsible for Hal's change of view.[5]

In December 1999 Paltrow was in talks to star.[6] The Farrelly brothers tried unsuccessfully to get Garry Shandling to star as Mauricio[7] before Jason Alexander was cast. Production was moved up in order to get the film completed before July 1 and a threatened Screen Actors Guild strike.[7] Filming took place in Charlotte, North Carolina.[8]

The Farrelly Brothers defended the movie and its plot to critics,[9] arguing it was more than a mere "fat joke" type of movie and was instead one that had a strong message about "inner beauty".[10]

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[11]), and had to wear a specially designed 25-pound fatsuit[12] and prosthetic make-up.[13] She later admitted that she did not enjoy partaking in production of the movie,[14] 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.[12]


Box office[edit]

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.[2][1]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 49%, based on 134 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."[15] On Metacritic, it has a score of 48% based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[17]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 out of 4 and called it "Often very funny, but it is also surprisingly moving at times."[18] A. O. Scott of The New York Times called it a series of fat jokes turned "into a tender fable and a winning love story"[19]

Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote: "With the relatively untested Black coming on awfully strong, the lack of directorial finesse lets the enterprise down, creating some clunky scenes and dead air where laughs might have been expected."[20][21]


The film was nominated at the 2002 Teen Choice Awards as Choice Movie: Comedy and its leads were nominated Choice Movie: Comedy Actor (Jack Black) and Choice Movie: Comedy Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow).[22]

Home media[edit]

Shallow Hal was released on VHS and DVD in July 2002, and topped the rental charts the week it was released.[23] It also performed well on Pay Per View. Fox released the film only 30 (rather than 45) days after its debut on DVD and video, and it became the top performing PPV title of 2002.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Shallow Hal (2001) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Shallow Hal". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 2019-10-04. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  3. ^ "Hollywood Comes To Wachusett As Movie Crew Takes Over Mountain". SnoCountry.com. August 19, 2014. Archived from the original on July 24, 2022. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  4. ^ Khatchatourian, Maane (1 December 2015). "'Shallow Hal' star Joshua Shintani dies at 32". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021. Director Peter Farrelly was vacationing in Hawaii when he discovered Shintani
  5. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (July 12, 2002). "On Video: How Tony Robbins became the inspiration for 'Shallow Hal'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on March 16, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  6. ^ Lyons, Charles (December 14, 1999). "Paltrow, Farrellys 'Hal' bent". Variety. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (26 September 2000). "Fast-track Farrellys are 'Hal'-bent". Variety. Archived from the original on 10 November 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021. They are also courting Garry Shandling to play Hal's equally shallow friend
  8. ^ Oyler, Melissa (December 31, 2020). "16 movies and TV shows you didn't know were filmed in the Charlotte area". Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on September 25, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2021. Filming in the area included Charlotte and Concord.
  9. ^ Pitts, Leonard (27 November 2001). "'Shallow Hal' is in all of us". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  10. ^ Rose, Devin (7 November 2001). "Why 'Hal' deserves half a chance". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  11. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (November 11, 2001). "Charting the Outer Limits of Inner Beauty". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on September 26, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Paltrow 'Humiliated' by Fat Suit". ABC News. August 21, 2001. Archived from the original on September 26, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  13. ^ Chautard, Andre (November 7, 2001). "'Shallow Hal' Fat Suit Not Just Skin-Deep". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 26, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  14. ^ Boyd, Phoebe-Jane (March 2, 2020). "Gwyneth Paltrow said starring in Shallow Hal was a 'disaster' – here's why she is right". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 19, 2021. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  15. ^ "Shallow Hal". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2022-01-19. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  16. ^ "Shallow Hal". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2021-11-10. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  17. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-01-02. Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 9, 2001). "Shallow Hal". Chicago Sun-Times. RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on April 12, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  19. ^ Scott, A. O. (9 November 2001). "FILM REVIEW; Inner Beauty Counts, And She's a Perfect 10". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 27, 2015. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  20. ^ McCarthy, Todd (2 November 2001). "Shallow Hal". Variety. Archived from the original on 10 November 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  21. ^ Travers, Peter (13 November 2001). "Shallow Hal". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 10 November 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  22. ^ "2002 Teen Choice Awards". The Oklahoman. August 18, 2002. Archived from the original on July 1, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  23. ^ Brandon Gray (July 12, 2002). "'Shallow Hal' Plops on Top of Home Video Chart". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  24. ^ Dempsey, John (January 13, 2003). "'Hal' hauls '02 PPV crown". Variety. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.

External links[edit]