Urban Cinefile
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Edition No 908 

Search SEARCH FOR A REVIEW
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Newsletter Options - Registration is FREE Help/Contact

BIG FAT LIAR

SYNOPSIS:
Jason Shepherd (Frankie Muniz) is a 14 year old with a lying streak. When his English class paper falls into the hands of movie producer Mart Wolf (Paul Giamatti), he finds himself telling the truth but neither his family nor his teacher believe him. To earn back their trust, Jason sets off to Hollywood, where Marty is turning the stolen paper into the only decent movie he's likely to make in his wretched career. And being an even bigger liar than Jason, Mart refuses to reveal the truth. Jason has to find a way to somehow break Marty's lying habit.


Review by Louise Keller:
Big Fat Liar is for Big Kids. And little kids. Kids of all ages. In fact, it's quite a blast. A fun spoof on Hollywood and the film producer, Big Fat Liar is a cool, good natured romp that revs up like a hot racing car. The whole concept is a bit of a hoot, and probably emanated from one of countless horror stories about producers. I mean, have you heard the one about the producer in Cannes with a chain saw? Ah, but that's another story… Reminiscent of a young Michael J. Fox, Frankie Muniz charms us as Jason, the irresistible teen whose compulsive lying habit belies his boyish energy and angelic features. He is so likeable that the most improbable wild tales are just plain entertaining, and we are happy to go along with them. Amanda Bynes shows good comedic sense as his no-nonsense pal Kaylee, but it's Paul Giamatti, who steals the scenes as the big-time, big-headed, shocker of a producer with piles of panache and theatrical flair. He is smarmy, slimy and sycophantic, and Giamatti repulses stylishly. Wolf by name, and wolf by nature. And in the course of events, he brings new meaning to 'being blue'. Fast paced and inventive, the film never runs out of ideas and steams along with a punchy, upbeat soundtrack. The kids actually act like kids, and the ideas they concoct are simple and credible (in the context of the story, that is), like putting superglue in the mobile phone ear piece. One of my favourite scenes is when Jason sneaks into Marty's office, while Kaylee quickly fills in at the reception desk, taking messages from Adam Sandler and Steven Soderbergh as nonchalantly as if she were swatting flies. Cool as cucumbers, both of them. He may no longer be the 6 Million Dollar Man, but watch out for Lee Majors, who still sparks some interest as an old-timer stunt man. The 88 minutes simply fly and beyond the superficial are underlying themes about family, trust and truth.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Hollywood is funny, isn't it. In most films that are set within the Hollywood movie business, Hollywood gives itself a bad rap. But - perhaps to pretend it isn't really like that - it also portrays its activities with such grotesque wraps of fact that it becomes unrecognisable. It's as if the Hollywood we are shown is a joke Hollywood. It isn't really like this 'cause look how phoney it looks. Nothing like the real thing. It's just in your imagination. And mostly, the ruse works, because mostly Hollywood can't begin to imagine the awful reality….but I'm getting carried away here. I started out on this train of thought because Big Fat Liar is set in the movie business, and it demeans its people for a joke. However, the people it portrays are not really real people, so we get to laugh at a set up. And funny it is, too. Very squarely aimed at early teens, BFL carries enough invention and characterisation to achieve its objectives in entertainment with a message. Always looking for moral rectitude, the studio picture ends up with a moral brownie point and this one's no exception. It's more enjoyable than I expected, though, and that's because the laughs come from fairly basic comedic constructs. Cinematic pratfalls given a working over. The cast is spot on and the mood is laid back. The only thing you have to invest is your time.



Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

BIG FAT LIAR (G)
(US)

CAST: Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, Amanda Bynes, Amanda Detmer, Donald Faison, Lee Majors

PRODUCER: Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins

DIRECTOR: Shawn Levy

SCRIPT: Dan Schneider

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Brown

EDITOR: Stuart Pappe, Kimberley Ray

MUSIC: Christophe Beck

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nina Ruscio

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 11, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

VIDEO RELEASE: December 18, 2002 (also on DVD)







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2014