Shallow Hal Parent Guide
The real fat that needs trimming from this otherwise good message is the abundance of sexual innuendos, crude anatomical comments and profanities.
Parent Movie Review
Although a minister, Hal’s dad (who had been prescribed morphine to ease his dying moments) expressed his last words frankly and crudely, advising his son to find a woman with “perfect” anatomical qualities (unlike Mom).
Years later, Hal (Jack Black) and his best friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander) spend endless evenings roaming nightclubs looking for those perfect females. Never able to recognize the shallowness of their desires (and hardly realizing their own bodies fall somewhat short of physical flawlessness), Hal and Mauricio sift through a bevy of beautiful babes who offer repeated rejections.
But a fated elevator ride changes Hal’s life forever. Stuck between floors with self-esteem guru Anthony Robbins (playing himself), their extended discussion ends with Anthony providing a dose of hypnotic suggestion that leaves Hal with an entirely new perspective. Now his eyes will see the inner beauty people posses as opposed to their outward appearance. Within days, Hal is dating Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow) who, from Hal’s new viewpoint, is a knockout. Yet Mauricio, who sees the Rosemary everyone sees, tries to convince Hal that she’s twice the woman he thinks she is.
And for that matter, Shallow Hal is twice the movie I was expecting. Given the infamous reputation of the Farrelly Brothers (responsible for such notables as Dumb And Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary), the fact that I left the theater profoundly moved was a tremendous feat. This film holds a strong and sensitive statement regarding our impulse to judge people based on appearances alone. Further, it goes beyond the issues of obese females—although that is definitely the core of the story.
Sadly, parents wanting to share this meaningful experience with their teens (it’s not suitable for young children), will discover the real fat that needs trimming are the many sexual innuendos, crude anatomical comments, profanities, and a scene where a woman disrobes (seen from behind) before getting in bed with a man. Just as Robbins suggests that Hal seek the inner-beauty, audiences will have to decide if it is worth looking past the excessive vulgarities to find the commendable message wrapped inside Shallow Hal.Directed by Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly. Starring Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release November 8, 2001. Updated April 20, 2018
Rating & Content Info
Why is Shallow Hal rated PG-13? Shallow Hal is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for language and sexual content.
Powerfully suggesting that we need to view those around us for who they really are as opposed to their outward appearance, Shallow Hal provides a refreshing perspective on body image. Unfortunately, it also serves up a full course of crudities, profanities, and other sexual banter, dropping it below our recommended grades.
Man speaks about another man with a physical disability in a demeaning way. Man yells at another man.
Sexual Content: D+
Many instances of men talking about women using crude or derogatory phrases. Many scenes feature women wearing tank tops without bras and other revealing clothing. Women dance seductively in nightclub. Man shown wearing only his boxers. Man frequently uses crude terms to describe female breasts, and in one case discusses squeezing them. Man crudely discusses male anatomy. Man crudely discusses his need for a bowel movement and the resulting outcome. Woman wears extremely high and tight shorts. Woman wears revealing bedtime attire which she slowly removes while a man watches her (we see the back view) then they are shown in bed together the next morning. Man makes crude condescending remark about having sex with obese people. Man who has to crawl to get around due to a physical disability constantly makes sexual remarks, including identifying women by their underwear—in one scene a woman asks him if he recognizes her panties. Woman in dress falls on floor, revealing her panties. Portrayal of cross-dressing male. Man asks woman if she’s wearing panties. Man and woman engage in French kiss. Man pulls pants down slightly to show another man a birth defect on his lower back.
At least: 1 extreme sexual expletive, 1 crude slang term describing sex, 20 moderate profanities of which 10 are crude sexual anatomical terms, 25 mild profanities, 8 terms of Deity used as expletives or profanities. Man makes joke about flatulence.
Alcohol / Drug Use: B-
Man given morphine for medical purposes. A few scenes portray people in bars or nightclubs drinking alcohol. Main characters shown drinking beer on at least two occasions. People drink wine with dinner. Woman smokes cigarette.
Page last updated April 20, 2018
More parents' guide for Shallow Hal after the break...
Shallow Hal Parents' Guide
By the end of the movie, you realize there are many people Hal views in a manner different than their actual appearance. Why did he not see Rosemary’s dad in a distorted way? What about his neighbor across the hall?
Could this movie have been just as effective if we would have seen Rosemary from Mauricio’s perspective? Why or why not? What type of anticipation do the creators achieve by not revealing her true outward appearance until the end? How did you react to the “real” Rosemary?
Has there ever been a time when you have misjudged someone based on appearance? What efforts can we make to correct our inherent desire to do this?
The most recent home video release of Shallow Hal movie is July 1, 2002. Here are some details…
Shallow Hal releases to home video (DVD) on July 1, 2002.
Related home video titles:
If looking beyond the surface is a romance theme that appeals to you, check out Shrek and Follow The Stars Home (the latter takes a complex look at what character traits have the most value, without the content concerns presented here). Beauty and the Beast offers a similar moral in a family friendly format.