Film review: Liar Liar (1997), directed by Tom Shadyac
What do you do if you’re a five-year-old boy and your lawyer daddy is a compulsive liar and has just missed that birthday party he promised he’d come to, because he got held up at the office again? (Well, at least that was the excuse he made on the phone – in reality, he was busy screwing his boss!) You’re blowing out the candles and you make a wish … You wish that for one day, one single day, your daddy would be unable to lie.
As far as most people are concerned, birthday candle wishes don’t come true. As far as Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) is concerned, he suddenly finds himself incapable of telling any sort of untruths. Starting with the boss, who is far from pleased to hear Fletcher’s “had better”.
When you’re so used to lying all day, every day, about every little thing imaginable (“I’m busy, nice shoes, lost weight?”) and you’ve got a major court case depending on your lying skills, no one would blame you for freaking out. And freak out is exactly what Fletcher Reede does. How on earth do you manage to go a whole 24 hours only telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
As you’d expect of a Jim Carrey movie, it’s over-the-top a lot of the time, but in a funny way. It made me think of what it would be like to have him as a dad in real life, and I was undecided in the end. Part of me thinks it would be hysterical to have such a funny father, and another part of me just looks at the first part in shock and utter distaste and says hell no, he’d be so annoying you’d be embarrassed as soon as you went out of the house together. (Apparently, he has a daughter, so I wonder what it was like for her.) Perhaps he’s not as over-the-top away from the film set?
The look of disappointment on the boy’s face when he realised his father was a no-show – ah, heart-wrenching. I really felt for the little guy. While there are other actors and actresses in the movie (Cary Elwes, for instance), it’s a Jim Carrey film, which means he’s the one you see most of, hear most of and remember most of, as he tends to overshadow everyone else. The credits have a gag reel where in court, he has a name-calling exchange in court with Swoosie Kurtz’s character, and she ends up calling him “over-actor”, after which the whole room bursts out laughing – and she says the crew put her up to it. Jim Carrey in a nutshell, no?
It’s not the most memorable film ever, but it’s cute and mostly harmless and carries the message that one should be honest and appreciate your loved ones and spend more time with them, because your family will always be more important than a career. And I really can’t argue with that. Especially not when it also comes with a happy ending.