REVIEW: Liar Liar

 Between 1994 and 1996, Jim Carrey had appeared in six motion pictures.  Those films combined raked in around $1.35 billion dollars worldwide.  Carrey's transition from television sketch comedy show, In Living Colour, was a level of success that is rarely ever seen.  Adjusted for inflation, that amount would be $2.4 billion.  Carrey was the obvious lead for three of these films, being a co-star in The Cable Guy and Dumb and Dumber, and playing a villain in Batman Forever.  Honestly, I cannot think of another person who made such an impact on film in such a short time.

The Cable Guy, released in 1996, was a film with a much different tone than audiences had been used to when it came to Jim Carrey, a film that felt a lot darker than what was expected.  I didn't care for it at the time, but I wonder if I would appreciate it now that I know it was meant to be different in tone.  Regardless, in 1997, Carrey came back to his expected form in Liar Liar.

The premise is that lawyer Fletcher Reede (Carrey) is a constant liar and horrible father to his son.  He is a workaholic, and all for furthering his career.  His son, Max (Justin Cooper), gets beaten down by his father's constant unreliability and makes a birthday wish that for one single day his father cannot tell a lie.

Max's wish is fulfilled, and now we find Fletcher living for twenty four hours of being incapable of saying anything that isn't true.  Of course, since this is to be a heartwarming film for the whole family, Fletcher ends up learning lessons about who he is as a person and father, making him a much better member of society.  Max is happy, and Flether's ex-wife Aubrey (Maura Tierny) decides not to move to Boston with her boyfriend Jerry (Carey Elwes) so she can keep Max close to his father.

This is all very nice and predictable.  Everything is predictable.  You can see all of the movies turns far down the road.  Nothing will catch you by surprise.  But, all of that is fine.  This film is the perfect vehicle for Jim Carrey, and he makes the most of the script.  After The Cable Guy, this film instantly reminds people that Carrey is a master of the big screen.

While trying to lie after Max's wish came true, we get scenes where Fletcher is fighting with himself to not tell the truth, which gives a perfect platform for Carrey's physical comedy.  On top of that, Carrey's great charm and charisma fits with this story of a person learning to become a better person.  Everything that is needed from Carrey in this film falls into his skillset, making this one of his best comedic performances.

The problem with some of Carrey's earlier films is that they haven't aged well, and we can see his characters as annoying or unlikeable.  Liar Liar holds up incredibly well, and a modern day viewing won't feel like we are watching something that was a relic of the mid nineties.

What really assists this movie is the supporting performances.  Justin Cooper really captures the longing of his character.  Maura Tierny is wonderful as the ex-wife, and Carey Elwes is on fire as the ultimate nice guy.  Jennifer Tilly plays a horrible person trying to milk her ex-husband of a lot of money.  Everyone in here does a great job, and this works to keep the script lively.

Sure, this is all very formulaic, but it succeeds as a feel-good film that the family can enjoy (well, there are a few moments that are probably not good for incredibly young children).  This is the charismatic and optimistic Jim Carrey, which is a version that ages so much better than some of his earlier characters.  Those were movies that were quite fun when they came out, but as the years have passed, they lose the effectiveness of the moment in which they were released.

I first saw Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on VHS.  After that, I made sure to see the next few films in theatre.  I felt like the crazy style of comedy spoke to who I was at the time.  Oddly, when I saw Liar Liar, I didn't have a great appreciation for it.  It wasn't what I wanted at the time.  However, the wonderful thing about films is that as we viewers grow and evolve our participation in the viewing experience can change as well.  Liar Liar holds up incredibly well, and is a great platform for us to view all of the wonderful skills of Jim Carrey.

Rating - 3.5 out of 4 stars