Next entry for the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is by S.G. Liput from Rhyme and Reason with his review of Liar Liar. Jim Carrey finally makes his entrance into our blogathon. If you haven’t visited Rhyme and Reason before, it is where “poetry meets film reviews”. Their tagline says it all. Remember to head over there after you’ve read the review and show them some love!
Without further ado, let’s hear their thoughts!
Liar Liar (1997)
I cannot tell a lie, you see;
I tell the truth compulsively.
It’s gotten to the point that I
Clammed up till home to make reply,
So now that I am home at last,
I’ll answer every question asked.
First off, you’re not my type at all;
Your mouth’s too big, your ears too small.
Why won’t I answer what you said?
So you won’t hear what’s in my head.
I don’t much care to stay and chat,
And yes, that dress makes you look fat.
And boss, I love to cause delays;
I was not sick the last two days.
I’ve no excuse, and off the books,
I take the pens when no one looks.
I hate your guts, if you can’t tell,
And think your tie came straight from hell.
Last, I can’t volunteer with you;
I’ve less important things to do.
Like watching TV like a log
And hoping someone reads my blog.
The truth will set you free, they say,
Right now I don’t quite feel that way.
The characters and incidents portrayed in this poem are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased) is intended or should be inferred.
MPAA rating: PG-13
In trying to think of a unique angle for this 90’s blogathon, there was one actor I thought of whose reputation was made and mostly played out in that decade: Jim Carrey. Those were the years of Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, when his name became synonymous with over-the-top goofiness and that snappy smile, and by the end of the decade, he’d ventured into more acclaimed dramatic roles, like The Truman Show and Man in the Moon. I decided to pick a film that fell in the middle of these phases and exemplifies both his comedic and semi-dramatic talent: Liar Liar.
Carrey plays a liar, I mean, lawyer named Fletcher Reede, who has a surprisingly nuanced relationship with his son Max (Justin Cooper) and ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney). He’s not the typical standoffish jerk that one might expect from his character, but actually seems like a good and fun father when he plays with Max, a fact even Audrey acknowledges. Where he fails, though, is in the frequency of broken promises and flawed priorities, always willing to put his job ahead of his son. When he’s on the job, the title is more well-deserved, since he’s a master at both ingratiating white lies and wildly rewritten facts that make him such a strong legal case-winner. When Max has at last had enough of his dad’s dishonesty, he makes a birthday wish that causes Fletcher to tell the truth, no matter what.
It’s easy to recognize that the plot is a mere framework for Carrey’s trademark silliness, in this case the exaggerated spasms he goes into as he tries to eke out even the smallest untruth, and of course what’s a lawyer if he can’t lie? It’s the kind of concept that would work well as a comedy skit, but it’s surprising just how many variations of inconvenient truths were devised to fill a feature film, from the real reason we don’t always give money to homeless people to the worst possible thing you could admit to a traffic cop. And Carrey just chews the scenery up, sometimes almost literally, with ever more hilarious convulsions and vocalizations. I especially enjoyed his inescapable bluntness and his attempts at being truthful enough to get by, such as even beating himself up for the sake of “truthfulness.” Even one of his costars accuses him of overacting during the credit bloopers, but he does do it well.
On top of all the silliness of Liar Liar, there’s a worthwhile moral at its heart: honesty is the best policy, obviously. But watching Fletcher’s inability to lie actually emphasizes just how widespread lying is, even if it’s something small meant to save us some trouble. It proves that some lies are indeed necessary for, well, civilization itself to survive, but lies don’t always have to be big and absurd to start a slippery slope.
As I said before, the characterization of Liar Liar isn’t as clear-cut as redemption stories like this usually are (think of the unmistakable jerks in Ghost Town or A Christmas Carol). Fletcher does have good points, most notably his chemistry with his son, and by the end, his truth-telling ordeal feels like a believable revelation rather than a complete 180° for his personality. Likewise, his ex-wife’s boyfriend (Cary Elwes) isn’t a jerk either and seems like a legitimately nice guy trying to bond with Max, but he’s just not the same as Fletcher. Nuances like that aren’t what I’d expect from a film full of Jim Carrey’s eccentric hamminess, but it turns what might have been mere silliness into a rather heart-warming amusement.
Best line: (Max) “My teacher tells me beauty is on the inside.” (Fletcher) “That’s just something ugly people say.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2017 S.G. Liput
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Thanks to Rhyme and Reason for this awesome review (and poetry piece) for Liar Liar!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for tomorrow’s Ultimate 90’s Blogathon entry!