A Psychoanalysis of Shallow Hal

What appears to be a rather harmless Jack Black romantic comedy, teaching us the life lesson of beauty being more than skin deep, is actually some rather intriguing and deep under-currents of psychological trauma.

After watching a re-run on Sky Movies, I felt compelled to report my oh-so compelling results.

So the film starts with Hal Larson and his equally shallow friend Mauricio Wilson (played by Jason Alexander) looking for attractive women to sleep with them.  Hal wants to see women for their inner beauty (hello Histronic Personality Disorder), which is when he gets stuck in an elevator with American life coach, Tony Robbins, who hypnotizes him into seeing people's inner beauty, not their exterior selves.  At this point, he meets Rosemary, who looks stunning to him; but is morbidly obese in real life.

Delirium: An acutely disturbed state of mind that occurs in fever, intoxication, and other disorders.  It is characterized by restlessness and illusions.

Lets start from the first clear inconsistency, that could lend itself very easily to merely a continuity glitch with the film; but for the sake of this article we shall call it a psychological state of Delirium, which passes through to his physical actions.  For the sake of the following video making any sense (apologies for the sketchy quality and lame over-dubbed soundtrack, it was the only upload I could find with the clip to make my point) please skip to 1:55.

Now bare in mind that Rosemary is +500lbs, so this kind of tight embrace that Hal is placing upon her would be rather discomforting, or even painful.  Surely, regardless of the hypnotic trance that he is under, Hal would be able to feel her physical being.  Her actual, much larger presence within the world.  Now we had two different conclusions for this behaviour.  Either it's the aforementioned heightened state of delirium, where his subconscious doesn't identify the circumference needed to embrace Rosemary.  Or Rosemary is one of few visions that Hal has created, or has been created for him by the hypnotist.

Allow us to explain, yet again.  You see, Hal was told he will see 'everybody' for their inner beauty; but the reality could not be further from the truth.  Key people throughout the film that teach him the importance of searching for the inner-self of a person undergo this transformation, whereas the rest of the populous does not.  If it's meant to be 'everybody,' then surely his partner-in-crime Mauricio would be a considerable amount more ugly as sin, and on top of that, the male population would be subjected to this as well.  I mean the children in the hospital burn ward Hal visits with Rosemary were a mixed-sex group, and Rosemary's ex-boyfriend and colleague from her missionary were changed.  Why wasn't this mixed-sex generality applied to the wider population?

Maybe the hypnotism wasn't so innocent as first thought.  Maybe it was an induced combination of Delusional, Dissociative and Delirium disorders, putting him in a complacent 'second life,' where he learnt the strength of inner beauty in true 'Christmas Carol' fashion: being introduced to multiple characters who help him analyse different aspects to his own life.  Maybe it was a completely reconstructed reality, 'Truman Show' style.

Or maybe we're just reading into it too much...