Reviewed by Dan Lybarger
March 26, 1997
For most people lying is a vice; for Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) it’s an art. It’s a small wonder that he’s a successful lawyer. With a little twist to the truth, Fletcher can make the guiltiest of defendants walk free. While his clients and his more gullible and ruthless coworkers are impressed, Fletcher’s son Max (Justin Cooper) isn’t. When Dad misses his son’s sixth birthday party, Max wishes that Fletcher would be unable to lie for 24 hours. The wish comes true, and Fletcher finds that he fares as badly without his lies as Popeye does without his spinach.
While the setup for Liar Liar is simple, it taps into one of the uglier aspects of human nature—the fact that we’d often rather lie than admit to unpleasant realities. The movie is at its most effective when it follows Fletcher’s awkward life as an honest man. When a one night stand asks him about her performance, he curtly replies, "I’ve had better." During scenes like this, Liar Liar demonstrates how we often take deception for granted and gets a decent laugh in the process.
Sadly, Liar Liar doesn’t always come clean. Carrey has a seemingly endless gallery of goofy facial contortions. He doesn’t, however, demonstrate much of an acting range. After a while his manic hysteria gets monotonous. The Mask was a lot more amusing because Carrey waited to use his comic gymnastics for when they were appropriate. The predictable storyline for Liar Liar doesn’t help, nor does Ace Ventura: Pet Detective director Tom Shadyac’s heavy-handed, sentimental approach. The bonding scenes between Carrey and Cooper are so annoying that they make you long for the weakest and crudest of gags.
On a pleasant note, the outtakes that run through the closing credits are inspired and worth sitting down for a few more minutes. Liar Liar will please Carrey’s legions of fans, but it could have done a lot more. It would be nice to report that Liar Liar consistently meets its potential, but it wouldn’t be truthful.(PG-13). Rating: 5.
This page was last updated on 10/28/97.