Thursday, November 27, 2008

A new view

I don't buy many films or DVDs to keep, but if I did one would be "Shallow Hal". Okay, I know it's a comedy, but it still has a message worth getting. If you've seen it, you know what I mean. Hal is just that - as deep as a rain puddle, is the way one character puts it. He wants to strike up relationships with glamorous women, purely because he thinks they look good so that is his definition of 'good' altogether. Then he is hypnotized and programmed to see the real worth of people. Whoever wrote this had a clever idea, and I offer them my compliments. When Hal sees the inner worth or true beauty of people, they appear to be attractive physically. So he meets and chats up a succession of women who look good to him, because they have likeable personalties and good hearts. The significant one is Rosemary, played by Gwyneth Paltrow - the proverbial glamorous blonde. But in real life, unseen to Hal, Rosemary is collossally overweight, which is shown by the way chairs collapse under her and the huge amount she eats. But she has a good heart, and so to the mentally re-geared Hal she looks beautiful. By contrast, a nurse he meets when Rosemary takes him to visit kids in a burns unit is a cold-hearted harridan, and a grasping gold-digger; and to Hal she looks like a grizzly witch, since that is her inner quality. In 'real life' that nurse is physically attractive, but the real her is ugly because she is a selfish unloving user. Hal sees that in her while hypnotized, and sees the beauty of several other women who deserve to be appreciated. For that matter when Rosemary introduces him to two friends who do overseas aid work, kind hearted and noble young men, they look handsome and poised, even though in physical appearance they are not. One is obese, the other has an unfortunate skin condition.
It's a brilliant idea, even though the film is comic. What would people look like if you saw their character in their appearance, instead of the superficial persona they cultivate.
But trouble is ahead. Hal has a pal who is still as shallow as ever. He rejects a girl because she has oddly shaped toes. Can you beat that?
When Hal's pal, who can't handle the new way Hal does things, gets the hypnotic trance lifted everything is confusion. Hal doesn't even recognize Rosemary, or several other people who he remembers as looking good. This leads to terrible hurt for Rosemary, although it comes out happily in the end. He meets up again with several people he does not know when he sees only their physical appearance. Finally he figures it out and takes up with Rosemary because what he saw in her as a person is still there even if her appearance is not what he thought. Lesson learned. So it's a romantic comedy, good for a laugh, but I call it a gem!
It's worth switching for a moment to William Butler Yeats, a literary poet. One of his poems is a prayer for his daughter. He says, let her be not SO beautiful that it goes to her head and she becomes selfish and conceited. Good point!
Obviously physical attraction exists for some purpose. God made it such that we are attracted to some and not others. But it should never be a person's value, whether or not they are glamorous to look at.
I recall a happy moment some years ago. A girl I taught is short and tubby with a bulgy face, and not what many people would call good looking. But she has a warm kind heart. The last time I saw her she had her usual kind smile - and a husband and child, which I know she wanted. Good one! Some days the world looks like an okay place after all!
It would be incredible to see what would happen if you could really undergo what was done to Hal, and see people without being influenced by their appearance. Come to that, I've had a friend who was blind, and he was married. He did not have to see his partner physically to appreciate her.


Randi Jo :) said...

another great post :) thanks andrew. Have a great weekend!!! :)

~*~toni~*~ said...

I saw that movie as well. I found it to have a good message. A little corny in spots but overall, pretty good. I think I enjoyed it for the same reasons you did. When my husband & I were first together, I was very thin. I put on 15 lbs. He said, "I can't see myself with a fat woman." I was not fat but, it hurt me. Twenty years later, I am a little larger than I was then. Maybe not obese but definitely 25 lbs heavier than I probably should be. I am larger than I was then. He's still here and loves me very much! The thing is... he knows me better & can see that I am a good person. So is he! Yeah....good message! Thanks for reminding me!

jel said...


hey Andrew, how are ya and the family?

makemeaspark said...

Hi Andrew.

Have not seen this movie, but now i might....
I did have a next door neighbor once who was a very attractive late thirties, early 40ish fellow, he had been married three times before and was dating a nice lady, who was understandably skittish about settling down with him.

One night when we had a neighborhood block party he came over and sat on my porch and confided in me. Showed me a picture of his first wife. Said he still thought she was beautiful, but could not understand why things did not work out for them. Since she is so beautiful....

I felt sorry for him. He just could not comprehend that there was any other criteria needed for a happy marriage. I wish him well but do not hold out much hope for him without total cognitive restructuring.

the_thinking_frog said...

Greetings Andrew,

In reading this post, I am comparing my teaching in a classroom with teaching the same material online. I did not realize how I allowed a person's appearance and demeanor to influence my. In the online format, I only know the material that they enter. It has been eye opening for me and when I teach in a classroom setting, something in which I will attempt to be much more cognizant.
Joyfully Serving,

Farrah said...

I finally got caught up on making my blog rounds tonight and got all settled in bed. I said my prayers and was thinking and talking to God about various things when all of a sudden "Andrew" popped in my head. Ooops! Forgot to visit his blog! So I got back up, and here I am at nearly 2 am commenting. Lol!

Anyway, I hope you and your family are happy and well. Sounds like an interesting movie! I believe that when God prepares a mate for someone, He also makes sure they will be physically attracted to each other, but it is critical that they also must really love, respect, enjoy each other's company, etc. It is much more than appearance. My husband is my best friend on earth. :-)


Tiffany Norris said...

I love that movie. :)

MindyMork said...

Hi, Andrew....thanks for sharing your blog add. Well, you have got interesting write ups. I shall be reading your blog more often. Yes, God is always Good but we never seem to glorify him enough as we only think of him when we need him but not thank him enough when we receive his goodness. At least i hope to keep reminding myself of his goodness through my blog. By the way, i like this movie by the sound of it...haven't seen it though and you have the same first name as my husband. May the Lord Bless you and your family abundantly! Amen.

Nitewrit said...


I was reading the comments on The thinking Frog Blog about Joseph and was curious about what comment kermit made on your Blog that you noted on a comment on his. So that is how I came here.

I liked the movie "Shallow Hal", too. It did have a good point to make about appearence and didn't kind of bail out as many other treatments of such a theme do. I have often seen Hollywood" try to do the "looks-don't-matter" theme by having the main character get involved with a "homely" (in the writer's opinion) as a dare or joke. Find the person is really great, feel bad, supposedly reform, but then in the end end up with some "great-looking" person anyway.

But "Shallow Hal" didn't do this. "Shrek" kind of did the same thing, but missed the mark a bit.

Anyway, I am going to add your Blog to the ones I follow regularily. I invite you top visit mine sometime if you can find the time, "Night Writing in the Morning Light" (

Larry E.