1997 - PG-13 - 86 Mins.
|Director: Tom Shadyac|
|Written By: Paul Guay Stephen Mazur|
|Starring: Jim Carrey, Justin Cooper, Cary Elwes, Jennifer Tilly, Maura Tierny |
|Review by: John Ulmer
"My dad is a liar," a small child says. "You mean a lawyer," his teacher responds. He shrugs his shoulders. They're both the same, aren't they?
Jim Carrey is a liar in "Liar Liar" (1997), which successfully uses Jim Carrey -- the king of annoyance -- to its full advantage.
Jim Carrey has, given time, grown on me. I didn't like him at first. Then I learned to put up with him. Now I find him perfect for some film roles such as Lloyd Christmas in "Dumb and Dumber" (1994).
I never think that Jim Carrey is ideal for a role, really, until I see him in it, and then I think that no one could have done it quite so well. But I still don't particularly think he's a very good comedian, per se.
Here he plays Fletcher Reede, a high-grade attorney so caught up in his work that he has little time to devote to his young son, Max (Justin Cooper), the type of plot-created kid that these type of films deserve. Max is mad that his dad keeps missing out on all his activities, so his birthday wish is every lawyer's worst nightmare: no lying.
Max wishes (or commands) that his father can no longer tell any lies, and the wish is granted by the powers that be. This is a problem for Fletcher, indeed, since he has just acquired the case of an adultress housewife (Jennifer Tilly) who wants to keep her kids. She spills the truth to Fletcher -- that she has had many affairs -- and this is not the type of thing a man uncapable of lying is able to cope with.
Fletcher spills his guts at the court proceedings, tarnishing his image as a professional lawyer. In one of the film's better scenes, he walks into a court bathroom and beats himself up, slamming his head in a toilet and punching himself so that he can postpone the trial to a later date.
Why is the sight of a man violently clapping his head against and between a toilet seat funny? Because it's Jim Carrey who, as I mentioned above, may not be the funniest man alive, but by the box office numbers may technically be -- and he does have a knack for physical, spastic comedy (too bad it can overtake his roles sometimes). Here he unleashes it when it is needed, and it works, because it is not a pointless exercise in energetic behavior, but quite the contrary.
The situations one can get into with the restrictions of only telling the truth are limitless. These types of formulas always work good in Carrey's movies -- those involving abnormal abilities. There's a reason they keep making similar films following the same formula.
As my (small number of) readers probably know, I am not a commercial critic with my grading scale. I am quite conservative, only giving high ratings to films that really deserve them. I hesitate to give "Liar Liar" anything more than the rating I have given it, although I must say that it is a very fine comedy with some great gut-busting laughs, and that any fan of inventive comedy -- Carrey fans or not -- should see this movie.
After all, would I lie?