+Liar Liar+ keeps viewer laughingApril 9, 1997
'Liar Liar' keeps viewer laughing
By Randolph Tjahjono
Like food, alcohol, television and just about anything else in life, Jim Carrey should only be taken in moderation. Too much and you're bound to get sick and too little will leave you wanting for more. With Liar Liar, Carrey has finally struck that perfect medium.
In his previous movies, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, versions 1 and 2 and Dumb and Dumber (this reviewer skipped The Cable Guy, and from what he has heard, he didn't miss much) nothing restrained Carrey. He went totally out of control, and it almost seemed as though the makers of the movies encouraged it. What resulted was a funny, but often times tacky and tasteless movie.
Here, writers Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur do a nice job of corralling Carrey's outrageous style. There are scenes where they completely unleash Carrey -- like the one where Carrey's character mugs himself in a bathroom, slamming himself into a wall countless times, smashing his own head with a toilet seat and punching himself out -- but then they quickly corral him again.
In fact, Guay and Mazur attempt to do something unheard of: they attempt to force Carrey to act. Furthermore, the comedy they wrote for Carrey is funny without degenerating into cheap jokes about human secretions and excretions.
In Liar Liar, Carrey plays Fletcher Reede, a slick-talking lawyer whose over-the-top court performances have earned him numerous victories.
When an unfaithful wife (Jennifer Tilley) wants Reede's law firm to handle a lucrative but difficult divorce case, Reede is all too eager to oblige.
Unlike some of his co-workers, he doesn't have an ethical problem with lying in court. Reede's titillating boss (Amanda Donohoe), aware of his talents, tells him that if he wins this case, he'll be made a partner.
Meanwhile, Reede's five-year-old son, Max (Justin Cooper) is celebrating his birthday. When Reede is a no-show for the party (another broken promise in a long history of broken promises), Max is crushed. So much so that his birthday wish is that his father stops lying for one day.
The wish comes true and suddenly Reede finds himself forced to speak the truth on a day when the ability to lie is critical.
It is here that Liar Liar has its funniest moments. Unable to tell a lie, Reede goes through a grueling ordeal in which he gets into all sorts of trouble. From a board room meeting where Fletcher has to tell each of his co-workers how he really feels about them, to an elevator scene where he tells a new female employee in the building exactly why men are being so friendly to her.
The movie also has some very fine supporting performances by way of Maura Tierney (from NBC's News Radio) as a faithful mother and ex-wife and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride and The Crush) as Tierney's sensitive and loving boyfriend. But it is Carrey that makes this movie. Without him, Liar Liar would simply be another clichéd, unoriginal, straight-to-video family film.
All in all, Liar Liar is a good, fun film. It won't win any awards, but it will definitely keep you laughing. Carrey is in top form, both in the material that made it into the film and during the end-credit outtakes. And unlike his past films, Liar Liar will attract both adults and children to the theater.
Copyright © 1997 The Lariat
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