Making the Grades
Alright, I confess that at least a half dozen times I found myself laughing at Jim Carrey's antics in Liar Liar. For my long time readers, you know that's a significant admission considering my feelings for previous Carrey gross-outs. However, even with a few good chuckles, I'm not planning to dust off a spot in my laserdisc collection for Carrey's latest romp.
In an attempt to make Carrey more palatable to a wider audience, writers Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur have put the clown into a moral dilemma when he is magically bound to fulfill a birthday wish from his five-year-old son Max (Justin Cooper) to quit lying for one day. As Fletcher Reede, a hotshot defense lawyer who would betray his own mother if it meant a win in the courtroom, Carrey gets many an opportunity to do his elastic face routines as he grapples with the pains of having to tell the truth.
The problem with the scenario is that Carrey's character jumps from being a polite liar, to a belligerent jerk with a license to tell everyone exactly what he thinks of them. And this is an improvement? Honesty is the best policy, but little Max's wish should have included a politeness clause. Eventually Carrey's character recognizes that the person he has lied to the most is himself, and at that moment he begins to change priorities, putting his family before his career.
But to get to these last fifteen value laden minutes, you have to tolerate scenes with Carrey being sexually attacked by a female coworker, hearing a tape recording of a very loud sexual encounter, and many other blatant sexual innuendos. What humor isn't derived from sexual situations is usually generated by demeaning others.
I have heard some say that this is Carrey's first "family" movie, but before you push play, be careful. I'm certain that regular readers of this column will want to preview Liar Liar before sitting their families in front of it. And that's the truth.