The reaction of critics to Shallow Hal is about as extreme as the
changes in Gwyneth Paltrow's body size during the movie.
A.O. Scott in
the New York Times concludes that the Farrelly brothers have
"cunningly transform[ed] a series of fat jokes...into a tender fable
and a winning love story."
Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times
begins his review this way: "The Farrelly brothers' Shallow
Hal is the darndest thing. As unexpected as Yasser Arafat suddenly
breaking into a chorus of "My Yiddishe Mama," this staggeringly earnest,
wholly sentimental film about seeing beyond surface appearances comes
from filmmakers you'd hardly expect to persistently appeal to our better
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution concludes: that watching stars Jack Black and
Paltrow "is a wonderful case of good acting enhanced by good chemistry
enhanced by good writing and directing. The Farrelly brothers have done
themselves proud with this movie. They've shown us their inner beauty."
On the other hand, Gary Thompson in the Philadelphia Daily News
writes that the movie "delves with insane bravado into the treacherous
currents that swirl around beauty, weight, and women. It's a brave
attempt, and also a failure."
Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street
Journal has a much harsher judgment: "The jokes are mostly dismal;
the payoff is smarmy (it involves Jason Alexander as Hal's haplessly
lustful buddy); the direction is perfunctory; and the lead performances
are tentative at best."
Tom Maurstad in the Dallas Morning News
sees the film as something of a metaphor about the movie business
itself: "Hollywood making a movie that lectures audiences to judge
people on the content of their character and not the shape of their skin
is a joke. Unfortunately, as Shallow Hal proves, it's not a very
Check out the Hollywood.com review of Shallow Hal here!
November 08, 2001 12:51pm EST
Hal (Jack Black) spends most of his time with his sleazy friend Mauricio (Jason Alexander) in nightclubs chasing women who basically look like supermodels. Ironic considering Hal and Mauricio are both unattractive and devoid of personalities. In one of the film's funnier moments Hal gets stuck in an elevator with self-help guru Anthony Robbins who hypnotizes the shallow fellow into seeing people's inner beauty rather than judging them purely on looks. Shortly after Hal falls for Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow) who he sees as skinny knockout rather than an obese woman. (Rosemary's inner beauty comes from being a Peace Corps volunteer who also helps out at the burn unit of the local hospital.) Annoyed that his best friend is dating a "rhino " Mauricio convinces Robbins to remove the spell so that he can have his old judgmental buddy back. Hal is then left to deal with seeing Rosemary for what she physically is and confront his feelings for her.
In Shallow Hal Paltrow (Bounce) makes a departure from her usual corseted roles and was convincing as the shy unconfident Rosemary. But most of the laughs come from seeing chairs collapse underneath Paltrow's supposed weight and getting a glimpse of her large purple thongs rather than her performance. The film also delivers many never before seen shots of Paltrow's crotch whether it's of her bending over in skimpy lavender lingerie or falling off a collapsed chair in a dress with her legs flailing. Either way we definitely see Paltrow in a different light. Black (Saving Silverman) is impressive playing the part of a guy who doesn't get that he's with someone obese. His confused reactions like when Rosemary's end of a canoe outweighs his are genuinely funny. Alexander (The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle) is equally amusing with his painted on hair but his character's neurosis parallel's Jerry Seinfeld's a little too much.
Directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly move away from their usual gross-out comedies like Dumb and Dumber and attempt a more heartfelt picture hoping to make people laugh and cry. Shallow Hal however does not succeed on either levels. The film is constantly driving home the point that it's wrong to judge people based on their looks but then derives most of the laughs from people's appearances. At one point Mauricio explains that Rosemary has "cankles " an anatomical appendage that happens when someone is so fat that their calves hang down over their ankles. Sure it's hysterical but are we supposed to laugh or become conscience-stricken? If it is at all possible to fuse politically incorrect humor and sensitivity it doesn't happen in this film. And while Paltrow has said she believes Shallow Hal will challenge the audience's perception of fat people it probably won't.
November 02, 2001 4:49am EST
Frank's (John Travolta) ex-wife Susan (Teri Polo) is planning her second marriage to respected businessman Rick (Vince Vaughn) (we know this because he receives an award from the city's chamber of commerce). However Frank and Susan's 11-year-old son Danny (Matthew O'Leary) is having trouble adjusting to the prospect of a new stepfather. The carefree Susan nonetheless goes ahead with the impending nuptials which go off without a hitch until an uninvited guest shows up at the wedding. Turns out this guest Ray (Steve Buscemi) used to be Rick's partner in crime before he became a town pillar and has come to town to collect some sort of unpaid debt. Worried about tarnishing his newfound image Rick decides to get rid of his old buddy. But he soon finds out Danny is on to him and terrorizes the tyke into keeping his dirty secret. Danny tries to get help but no one except Frank believes him.
Travolta (Swordfish) is believable enough as a caring blue-collar father but he doesn't seem to give more to his performance than needed. It could be his over-simplistic character; Frank was almost too good of a guy and lacked authenticity. Vaughn (Made) is menacing enough to pull off the role of Rick but his character is unfortunately never fully developed. Viewers are expected to buy that he was once really crooked and now the pillar of the community with hardly any basis. Polo (Meet the Parents) plays the part of a concerned mother well but it conflicts with her character's aloofness. It's hard to believe her concern over her son after she marries a man she obviously knew nothing about. For his first feature film O'Leary demonstrates a lot of potential for a young actor and was well cast as Danny.
Harold Becker's Domestic Disturbance sticks to the tried and true evil stepfather formula which makes the story a little too predictable. The film might have been more interesting had the story risen above the level of a made-for-TV movie. There were also some elements to the story that made it a bit hard to swallow like the fact that the local police department was not able to prove a murder had obviously taken place. There are a few corny scenes like when Travolta goes crashing headfirst into a car windshield but still manages to give a dopey smile to his terrified son tied up in the back seat. Surprisingly the film still provides enough tension and suspense to make it entertaining even when using old tricks like unexpectedly seeing the villain's reflection in a mirror. The look of the film and the accurate re-creation of a small seaside tourist town in Maryland add to its visual authenticity.
In case you haven't heard, another big budget, big boat flick is about to set sail in Hollywood.
Nope, it's not a sequel to "Titanic." But given its eye-popping $135 million upfront budget, it'd better be like one at the box office.
The film in question is Disney's grandiose World War II opus "Pearl Harbor," and the big boat in particular is the battleship Tennessee (which was once the film's working title) -- the Pearl Harbor-docked vessel where the bulk of the film's eponymous Japanese bombing attack sequence takes place.
Reuniting "Armageddon" producer-director team Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay and written by "Braveheart" scribe Randall Wallace, the flick follows the tenuous love triangle involving two buddy pilots and a nurse stationed at Pearl Harbor during and after the attack.
Despite the emphasis on the romantic component, the flick, being still a Michael Bay product, is said to be heavy in special effects, pyrotechnics, visceral spectacles and all the necessary bells and whistles that would lend the film a sense of historical verisimilitude and import.
So far, what's spectacular about the film is not the scope of its ambition but the controversy surrounding the flick's proposed starting budget, which was initially set at a whopping $145 million and which would have made "Pearl Harbor" the priciest film to date (the previous record was held by Bay's last venture "Armageddon," at $140 million).
With such an inflated price tag, the flick was fast acquiring a high-risk rep that didn't exactly jive well against Disney's recent financial plunders. The survivability of the WWII film was the topic of many Hollywood debates in the wake of power shuffling high up on the Disney food chain -- the result of which saw the exit of studio chief Joe Roth (an avid espouser of the project since its inception). A cautious Eisner, only days after Roth's resignation, told both Daily Variety and The Wall Street Journal that the film was not being approved.
The film's mercurial fate took a definitive upswing after budget meetings between Eisner and Bruckheimer, which cut the cost from the initial $145 million to $135 million. Variety reported just last Thursday that Disney has given the project a definitive go-ahead and plans to put up the war flick's entire $135 million budget.
Meanwhile, Bruckheimer has already begun doing what a producer of a pic heading into production does. In his case, successfully enlisting the government's defense expertise on the project and coming up with a list of possible candidates to fill the three main roles.
The roster of hopefuls, said The Hollywood Reporter, includes Wes Bentley ("American Beauty"), Ed Burns ("Saving Private Ryan"), James Caviezel ("The Thin Red Line", Charlize Theron ("The Cider House Rules") and television teen drama "Felicity" stars Keri Russell and Scott Speedman. Acting heavyweight Gene Hackman is reportedly the top selection for the part of the incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt. (The predominance of up-and-comers is reportedly due to a slashed cast budget to compensate for the mammoth cost of the film's special effects.)
With a definite seal of approval from Disney, "Pearl Harbor" is well on its way to becoming one of the most anticipated films slated for 2001. But the $135 million question remains: Would audiences respond to a seemingly cliche love story with non-established Hollywood faces, however splashy the special effects-laden backdrop might be?
"With a film like this -- which basically belongs to the genre of big-budget disaster film -- the model the studio's going by is to sell the concept rather than the star. With an established director and producer, Bay and Bruckheimer are providing the real star power for the film," said Gitesh Pandya, editor of the box-office analysis Web site Box Office Guru (http://www.boxofficeguru.com).
"Take for example, "Twister," with Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. They were known but were not big names but the film still went on to make a lot of money. Another one is 'Independence Day.' Bill Pullman, Will Smith were not big level stars, but the concept worked and the film skyrocketed. And let's not forget 'Titanic.' When the film opened, everyone thought it would fail. And look what happened."
And what happened was that Leonardo DiCaprio became a worldwide phenomenon.
Taking Bay and Bruckheimer's track record into account ("Armageddon" grossed more than $550 million worldwide), "Pearl Harbor" may not only be successful, but it could also provide one of those star-making turns for whose who end up in the title roles.
"I don't think you can ever underestimate Bay and Bruckheimer's ability to deliver a hit. Having big stars is just one piece of the pie. Knowing the type of marketing expertise behind the film and the people involved who's going to put it together, I think this film has as good a shot as any to be a hit," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.
"'Titanic' was a big-budget film with relative unknown stars, and it went on to become the bigger domestic and worldwide grosser of all time. Leonardo DiCaprio was recognizable, but he certainly became an A-list star after 'Titanic's' release."
Disney likes it. The government likes it. The film-analyst community likes it. But what about the people whom the film's portraying? We asked a Pearl Harbor vet for his opinion.
"I think it's wonderful," said Charles Myles, a Pearl Harbor vet and secretary of the Orange County chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivor Association. "There're many facets to the events that took place at Pearl Harbor. And to understand them, you have to lay the groundwork before the attack. I think the film will do well in keeping the memory of Pearl Harbor alive."
With that said, audiences can judge for themselves using the following handy Pearl Harbor facts (from both the cinematic version and the real thing).
Unknown, but the total U.S. expenditure for World War II was approximately $3.3 trillion dollars. "Pearl Harbor" film: So far, $130 million (down from the $145 million original figure) in initial budget, plus the $2 mil screenwriter Randall Wallace reportedly got for the script.
PERSONNEL/CASUALTIES/DAMAGES Military and naval forces suffered 3,435 deaths. Eight battleships, three light cruisers, three destroyers and four miscellaneous vessels were severely damaged or destroyed. The film: So far, a cast of four known roles (two pilots, one nurse and one president). Two battleships, the USS Tennessee and the USS Oklahoma, were said to be featured in the bombing scenes.
TIME AND PLACE
The attack took place in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. According to reports, the film spans some 20 years. The first act of the film takes place in Tennessee, where the boyhood friends meet. The second act focuses on the attack on Pearl Harbor. The third, and final, act will incorporate the April 18, 1942, "Doolittle Raid" over Tokyo.
The attack lasted approximately 2 hours -- bombing began at around 8:30 a.m. and ended shortly after 10:00 a.m. According to FlixBurg USA (http://members.xoom.com/FlixBurg/flixburg040.htm), an early draft of the script is locked at 142 pages. Using the standard formula of one page per minute, the film would be approximately 142 minutes long, or 2 hours, 22 minutes.
OTHER NOTABLE PEARL HARBOR FLICKS
"Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" (1944) with Robert Mitchum and Spencer Tracy, and 1970's "Tora! Tora! Tora! "Pearl Harbor" is slated to begin filming in April and is aiming for a Memorial Day 2001 release date. Possible locations include Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Los Angeles; Baja, Texas; and England.
Hey, little buddy! Pay up! That's what two creators of the legendary sitcom "Gilligan's Island" are telling the show's producer, the equally legendary Sherwood Schwartz.
Elroy Schwartz (younger brother of Sherwood) and his writing partner, Austin Kalish, say Sherwood cheated them out of millions, after the show went into an eternal (and profit-making) syndication run in the late 1960's.
And on Monday, a Los Angeles judge ruled there's enough evidence in the case to warrant a trial. Sherwood Schwartz's lawyers had argued that too much time had passed and the statue of limitations expired.
No trial date has been set yet.
Annette Bening, Warren Beatty SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 26, 2000 - Ella Corinne. According to the Washington Post, that's the moniker Warren Beatty and Annette Bening have settled on for their newborn daughter, born earlier this month. The couple was tight-lipped about the child -- their fourth -- declining to give details as to where, when or how.
They did not (natch) divulge their baby-name pick. And they have not (natch) confirmed that Ella is it.
It sounds nice, though. At least the Travoltas think so. John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston named their new babe, born April 4, Ella, too.
GOODBYE, "DOLLY": The Broadway producer who empirically "presented" such Great White Way musicals such as "Hello, Dolly!," "42nd Street," "Oliver!" and dozens of others died Tuesday in London. David Merrick was 88.
BUDDY, BUDDY: Actor Walter Matthau, 79, and his frequent director Billy Wilder, 93, are laid up in the same undisclosed hospital suffering from "quite different maladies," Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd reports today. The office of Wilder's agent said it had no information on the legend. No comment yet from the Matthau camp.
BAD DAY FOR TUBA PLAYERS: This just in from Orlando, Fla. - Walt Disney World has decided to disband its marching band after a nearly 30-year run. Eighteen brass enthusiasts were canned Tuesday.
HE WINS AGAIN: In London, a judge has ruled that Oscar-winning "Sussudio" artist Phil Collins is due more than $390,000 in overpaid royalties to two musicians from the R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire. The dispute dated back to a 1990 Collins tour that the two rockers played on.
Director John Woo has left Sony and signed a three-year movie and TV deal with MGM, according to Entertainment Weekly Online.
Woo didn't end up making any films with his resident studio, planning two other projects instead with MGM. The projects include "Wind Talkers," starring Nicolas Cage. For now, Woo's got another action flick on his plate: "Mission: Impossible 2," starring Tom Cruise, opens this summer.
SECRET AGENT MAN: John Dahl, who directed the noirish Matt Damon poker pic "Rounders," is in talks with Mandalay Pictures to direct "End Game," a spy flick starring Sean Connery, reports Daily Variety. Written by Adi Hassock and Stuart Kelban, Connery will play an old-fashioned CIA agent who goes on a special undercover assignment to expose illegal arms dealing. In the process, he discovers that he's been set up to take the fall in a conspiracy. Connery then teams up with a young counterpart to prove his innocence.
LET'S HOPE IT'S TEMPORARY: "Cruel Intentions" director Roger Kumble is in final talks to helm Columbia Pictures' romantic comedy "Screenplay Without a Title Yet." The story follows a club-hopping hipster who believes she's finally met her soulmate. The next morning at a wedding party, she is horrified to find that he's the groom. According to Variety, "Screenplay" was purchased for $1.5 million from "South Park" staff writer Nancy Pimental.
WHAT, NO FOUL-MOUTHED ANGELS?: As if he's just asking for "Dogma"-like religious controversy, "King of the Hill" creator Mike Judge will direct "Messiah Complex," a comedy about a pious college student who starts to believe he was cloned from the Shroud of Turin. No word on whether Beavis and Butthead will co-star.
SPELLING BEE: Catherine Zeta-Jones, who's been a busy bride-to-be lately, is in talks to star in "Traffic," a film that looks at the high-revenue industry of drug trafficking. According to EW Online, the film is based on the acclaimed British miniseries "Traffik," but American studios had to change the title. But we're still afraid moviegoers will think it's a film about the Los Angelesfreeways.
REAL TRAFFIC: Jamie Foxx, fresh from his success in "Any Given Sunday," will star in "National Security," a buddy-cop comedy. Foxx will play a man beaten by a white cop, who then teams up with the officer wrongly accused of the beating.
ADDITIONS: Liev Schreiber, a recent Golden Globe nominee for the cable film "RKO 281," will join the cast of "Pay it Forward," starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment... Tim Guinee ("Blade") has been added to Dimension Films' "Impostor," whichstars Gary Sinise and Madeleine Stowe ... Lisa Thornhill ("Ally McBeal") has been tapped to co-star with Nicolas Cage in "Family Man," to be directed by Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour") ... Alexandra Paul ("Baywatch") will co-star with Ron Silver in the independent film "Exposure," to be film in NewZealand.