Sunday 5 February 2012

Movie Review: Liar, Liar (1997)

An old-fashioned comedy, Liar, Liar provides Jim Carrey with all the leeway he needs to unleash his talent for slap stick humour. Beyond all the mugging there is precious little going on, but when Carrey is in this sort of top form, he requires little support.

Lawyer Fletcher Reed (Carrey) lives by lying. He is working his way up the corporate ladder by winning cases on behalf of wealthy clients, but Fletcher cannot stop his incessant lying even when it comes to his family. Divorced from Audrey (Maura Tierney) but still idolized by his young son Max (Justin Cooper), Fletcher manages to regularly make promises that he cannot keep, including missing Max's birthday party.

Deeply disappointed, Max's birthday wish is for his Dad to say only the truth for 24 hours. The wish immediately comes true, plunging Fletcher's life into turmoil. His relationship with his lustful boss (Amanda Donohoe) is knee-capped, and his latest legal case defending an unfaithful wife (Jennifer Tilly) seeking massive alimony payments is thrown into chaos when Fletcher suddenly cannot lie on behalf of his client. By learning to deal with the truth and only the truth for at least one day, Fletcher must try to salvage his career and his relationship with Max.

Director and frequent Carrey collaborator Tom Shadyac knows how to get the most out of his star. The premise allows Carrey to let loose with an endless barrage of over-the-top physical comedy, as Fletcher struggles mightily against the mysterious forces preventing him from spouting his usual stream of lies. Carrey is hilarious, his rubbery face and extraordinary physical control on full display, and he easily carries the film.

The rest of the cast, while competent, is there effectively to simply watch and cheer Carrey on. While the talented Maura Tierney provides a reminder that the movies mostly lost out to television in providing her with memorable roles, the likes of Jennifer Tilly and Cary Elwes (as Audrey's new boyfriend) are just sketched in to activate Carrey's switches.

Liar, Liar delivers simple laughs and a simple message in an entertaining, and ironically honest, package.

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