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Liar Liar (review)

Lying with the Dogs

You have to admire Jim Carrey. He’s the guy who somehow got you into trouble in math class in 7th grade by making faces at you — and now he’s making $20 million a movie for doing the same thing.

In Liar Liar, Carrey is Fletcher Reede, a bottom-feeding attorney who nevertheless only seems to tell the kind of lies we all tell to get through the day: That haircut really suits you. Hey, you’ve lost some weight. Etcetera. And of course, lying is essential in his line of work. But when he is less than attentive to his 5-year-old son, Max (Justin Cooper), that’s where we’re meant to draw the line. How could anyone lie to this disgustingly adorable moptop little creature with the big eyes? Well, the little stinker wishes for his dad to be unable to tell a lie, just for a day. And comedy ensues.
Liar Liar is moderately amusing. Carrey takes what should have been strictly verbal humor and makes it physical — watch for the fight with the pen. But Fletcher is never sympathetic — he’s just a jerk who deserves what he gets. The comedy has no real bite, and what’s intended to be all heartwarming and charming ends up as a bunch of mush. The outtakes that run with the credits at the end are the funniest bits in the whole movie. On the plus side, Liar Liar is only 90 minutes long.

Liar Liar tries to make a statement about the immorality, sometimes, of the law, but it does a very simplistic job of it, and the movie takes the easy way out in the end (don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who care). I much prefer the tougher approach of television’s The Practice. Bobby Donnell and his cohorts actually have to face moral ambiguities and deal with them like adults, not like the Tasmanian Devil.

Oh, I wasn’t expecting much, really. And it was much better than Dumb and Dumber.

P.S. Cary Elwes is really cute, even here in Liar Liar as the frighteningly Stepfordesque Jerry.

viewed at home on a small screen

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