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Jim Carrey Delivers His Finest Performance to Date in Liar Liar
movie review by Gary Johnson

Go to:
The official Web site for Liar Liar.

[rating: 3 of 4 stars]
After a temporary detour into dark comedy, courtesy of Ben Stiller's Cable Guy--and watching box office returns dwindle--Jim Carrey returns to comedy-in-a-lighter-vein with Liar Liar.

Movie poster for Liar Liar.

Universal Studios)

But there's still a difference: Carrey isn't playing a cartoonish character (as in The Mask or Ace Ventura) or an utter buffoon (as in Dumb and Dumber); now he's playing a recognizably human character--an habitual liar (i.e. a lawyer) who has neglected his family. But that doesn't mean you won't see Carrey's trademark facial contortions. In this case, the filmmakers provide an excuse for Carrey's manic behavior. The excuse isn't particularly substantial--his six-year-old son simply makes a birthday wish that his father will go for an entire day without telling a lie--but the excuse is just substantial enough to make Carrey's subsequent troubles (imagine a lawyer who can't lie!) just plausible enough (at least for the less cynical members of the audience) to allow for some willing suspension of disbelief.

Liar Liar is nowhere near as wild as the aforementioned The Mask and Ace Ventura, where practically anything could happen. There aren't any big sight gags in Liar Liar. Instead, the comedy comes out of the whimsical situations and the struggles that Carrey must go through to perform in court without telling a lie.

Jim Carrey in court with Swoosie Kurtz, Eric Pierpoint, and Jennifer Tilly.

Universal Studios)

Carrey plays the well-dressed, smooth-talking Fletcher Reede, a lawyer who specializes in representing "moral grime." When he's formulating the perfect alibi for a client, his face lights up like a pinball machine. He loves his job. But these same skills that make him such a success at his job make him a pitiful failure in his personal life. He's divorced and he rarely sees his own son, habitually canceling visitations because of his work. His son loves him, but Max knows to take what his father says with a grain of salt. After Fletcher fails to show up at his son's birthday party, Max makes a birthday wish that suddenly comes true.

Jim Carrey and Justin Cooper play father and son in
Liar Liar.

(©1997 Universal Studios)

This is relatively gentle stuff for a Jim Carrey movie, but make no mistake about it: this is still a Jim Carrey movie all the way. Nearly all of Liar Liar's best moments come when Carrey is struggling to tell a lie. In the courtroom, he struggles to argue his client's case, but he quickly becomes his own worst enemy. Every time he opens his mouth, the truth pops out. In his struggles to get the right words out, his jaw slackens and his eyes bug out while his lips and tongue go through extravagant contortions. In these scenes, Carrey isn't simply mugging. We can see the confusion and shock in his eyes as he fights the truthful words that pop from his lips. This is Jim Carrey's finest performance to date and one of the finest comedic performances of the '90s. Liar Liar shows there's a fine actor inside of Carrey.

A Universal Studios Presentation


Fletcher ReedeJim Carrey
Audrey ReedeMaura Tierney
Max ReedeJustin Cooper
JerryCary Elwes
GretaAnne Haney
Samantha ColeJennifer Tilly
MirandaAmanda Donohoe
Judge Marshall StevensJason Bernard
Dana AppletonSwoosie Kurtz
Mr. AllenMitchell Ryan
Richard ColeEric Pierpoint
Directed byTom Shadyac
Produced byBrian Grazer
Screenplay byPaul Guay
Stephen Mazur
Executive ProducersJames D. Brubaker
Michael Bostick
Director of PhotographyRussell Boyd
Production DesignerLinda DeScenna
MusicJohn Debney
Costume DesignerJudy L. Ruskin
Film EditorDon Zimmerman
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