Liar Liar (1997) Film Analysis/Review

Liar Liar Title Card

Liar Liar (1997)

Liar Liar is a 1997 American comedy film directed by Tom Shadyac. The film was written by Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur and stars Jim Carrey.

It tells the story of a lawyer who built his entire career on lying, but finds himself cursed to speak only the truth for a single day. Over the course of the day, the lawyer struggles to maintain his career and to reconcile with his family/loved ones who have all grown to despise his endless lying.

The film is a hilarious concept that showcases the absurdity of Carrey’s physical comedy, takes a fun jab at the outlandish nature of the truth and even features a touch of emotional resonance.

The Story (Mild Spoilers)

Fletcher Reede is an opportunistic lawyer and a divorced father living in California. While he loves his son, Fletcher gives more attention to his legal career, often lying to get out of any responsibilities. His compulsive lying is the driving factor behind his successful career, thus leading to him rely more heavily on breaking the truth. Fed up with his father’s broken promises, his son makes a birthday wish that his father would be unable to tell a lie for an entire day.

Fletcher soon discovers, through a string of inconvenient/outlandish incidents, that he is unable to lie. The nature of his condition is taken to extremes, boiling over with each potential chance for him to lie. Fletcher’s frustrations come to a head as he fights a divorce case which could be a huge boost to his career. His client is comfortable committing perjury to win, but Fletcher discovers that the wish prevents him from warping the truth in any way.

Fletcher does everything he can to delay the case (even beating himself up), but is unable to lie his way out of the situation. The film continues to showcase a particularly enjoyable (and outlandish) string of court scenes. It ultimately concludes with a satisfying resolution, for both the trial and Fletcher’s character arc.

 

Analysis/Review

I consider Liar Liar to be the best of Carrey’s films to balance both the emotional weight of his dramatic career and the absurd energetic comedy that he is most known for.

It’s primarily a comedy, through and through. The film knows what it is, is competent in the areas that it holds on and the emotional moments don’t feel shoehorned in.

You have some interesting side characters (and the particularly interesting inclusion of Cary Elwes as the cringe-worthy boyfriend). Jennifer Tilly is frequently excellent as a counter to Carrey’s character and I particularly enjoyed Jason Bernard as Judge Stevens.

It’s a solid film that has a moderately “timeless” feel to it. While it’s steeped in the 90’s (and blatantly obvious at points), the plot doesn’t revolve around anything that would particularly date it or undo the elements of the story.

This film’s pacing is sharp, witty and has a ton of minor jokes being thrown your way along the runtime.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable comedy that has more depth than expected, please give this one a try.

It’s one of Carrey’s best.

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