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 natures."
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 funny joke."