Liar Liar is a 1997 American fantasy comedy film directed by Tom Shadyac, written by Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur and starring Jim Carrey, who was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in Comedy.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tom Shadyac|
|Produced by||Brian Grazer|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Edited by||Don Zimmerman|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$302.7 million|
The film is the second of three collaborations between Carrey and Shadyac, the first being Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and the third being Bruce Almighty. It is also the second of three collaborations between Guay and Mazur, the others being The Little Rascals and Heartbreakers.
In Los Angeles, lawyer and divorced father Fletcher Reede loves his son Max, but frequently breaks promises to him to focus on his work, which he cares more about than his family. Fletcher's current client, the self-centered, money-grabbing Samantha Cole has garnered the attention of Mr. Allen, a partner at the law firm for which Fletcher works. If Fletcher wins this case, it will bring his firm a fortune and boost his career. On the night of Max's birthday party, Fletcher calls and lies to his former wife Audrey about missing Max's party due to work, when he is actually having sex with his boss, Miranda, in order to get a promotion. Dejected, Max makes a birthday wish that for one day his father cannot tell a lie. The wish immediately comes true, and Fletcher unwittingly tells Miranda he has "had better" sex, which infuriates her and prompts her to throw him out of the office.
The following day, Fletcher realizes that he is unable to do anything dishonest. He uncontrollably blurts out vulgar and painful truths about his co-workers whenever they speak to him, and his Mercedes SL500 (R129) convertible is impounded after he admits his many moving violations and unpaid parking tickets to a police officer who pulled him over. He also is unable to ask questions if confident of a false response, which ruins his current trial strategy as Samantha and her affair partner Kenneth Falk are willing to commit perjury.
Upon learning that Audrey intends to move herself and Max to Boston with her current boyfriend Jerry, Fletcher begs her to reconsider. During their discussion, Audrey tells Fletcher about Max's wish from the previous night. Fletcher visits Max at school and asks him to reverse the wish, explaining that adults need to be able to lie sometimes. He is heartbroken when Max says that Fletcher is the only adult who ever hurt him with his lies. Knowing that the wish only lasts for one day, Fletcher tries to do what he can to delay Samantha's case since the magic wish will expire at 8:15 PM. Things only get worse for Fletcher as he admits his past stinginess to his secretary Greta, who quits when she recounts a friend of hers who lost money in a unfair lawsuit due to lawyers like Fletcher, who admits he would have cost her even more money.
Fletcher's erratic behavior in court leads to several questions of his sanity as he objects to himself and badgers and provokes his own witnesses into admitting they had an affair, which, based on the prenuptial agreement between Samantha and her husband, Richard Cole, would remove any claim Samantha has to the marital assets. Finally, after a quick review of the paperwork, Fletcher finds a technicality that Samantha lied about her age and was under 18 when she signed the prenup prior to her marriage, rendering it void and entitling her to half of Richard's estate, allowing Fletcher to win the case for Samantha truthfully. However, Samantha ungratefully chooses to contest sole custody of their children, whom Richard dearly loves, in order to receive another $10,000 in child support payments from him, as she intends to hit Richard where it hurts. Fletcher, realizing that his lies from the past few days have turned Samantha into a vengeful, petty former wife, watches in anguish as Samantha pulls the clearly distressed children out of their heartbroken father's arms, demanding that he "pay for them." Horrified that winning the case has punished a caring, loving father and rewarded a cheating, gold-digging former wife, Fletcher, now regretting his mentioning of the technicality, tries to overturn the decision, but his demanding tone and criticism of the ruling angers the judge, and he is arrested for contempt of court. He calls Audrey from the prison's phone and begs her to bail him out and give him another chance, but she hangs up on him and leaves for the airport with Max.
Greta, having heard about the drama in the courtroom, returns and bails Fletcher out of jail. Wanting to improve his relationship with his son as a more honest man, he rushes to the airport to stop Audrey and Max from leaving forever. He misses their flight, but sneaks onto the tarmac by hiding in a piece of luggage, steals a motorized staircase, and manages to gain the pilot's attention by throwing his shoe at the cockpit window, forcing him to abort the flight. Unfortunately, he crashes into a barrier and is sent flying into a baggage tug, breaking both of his legs. Before being wheeled away on a stretcher, despite no longer being under the wish's influence, he means what he says and tells Max how much he cares about him and how sorry he was for breaking his promises and taking their relationship for granted. Satisfied with Fletcher's apology, Max convinces Audrey to stay in Los Angeles; Jerry, despite being sad, is happy that Max's father will be a better influence in his life from now on.
One year later, Fletcher (who is now fully recovered from his injuries and running his own law firm with Greta as his continuing secretary), Audrey, and Max are celebrating Max's birthday. Max makes a wish with his birthday cake and blows out the candles. Max then turns on the lights to reveal Fletcher and Audrey kissing, which Fletcher assumes was Max's wish. Max explains, however, that he only wished for rollerblades. Fletcher then clutches his hands into "The Claw"—a game he likes to play with Max by chasing him—and chases him and Audrey around the house with it.
- Jim Carrey as Fletcher Reede
- Maura Tierney as Audrey Reede
- Justin Cooper as Max Reede
- Jennifer Tilly as Samantha Cole
- Amanda Donohoe as Miranda
- Jason Bernard as Judge Marshall Stevens
- Cary Elwes as Jerry
- Swoosie Kurtz as Dana Appleton
- Anne Haney as Greta
- Eric Pierpoint as Richard Cole
- Chip Mayer as Kenneth Falk
- Mitchell Ryan as Mr. Allan
- Cheri Oteri as Jane
- Marianne Muellerleile as Mrs. Berry
- Krista Allen as woman in elevator
- Don Keefer as Beggar at Courthouse
Liar Liar was the film debut of actress Sara Paxton, who played one of Max's classmates and his birthday party attendant. It was also the last film to feature Don Keefer, who retired in 1997, and Jason Bernard, who died shortly after filming was completed. The film was dedicated in Bernard's memory.
Liar Liar received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 81%, based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Despite its thin plot, Liar Liar is elevated by Jim Carrey's exuberant brand of physical humor, and the result is a laugh riot that helped to broaden the comedian's appeal." On Metacritic the film has a score of 70 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." In CinemaScore polls, audiences gave the film an "A-" grade from an A+ to F scale.
Critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars and stated, "I am gradually developing a suspicion, or perhaps it is a fear, that Jim Carrey is growing on me," as he had given negative reviews to his previous films Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Some critics noted similarities between the plot of this film and "The Whole Truth", an episode of The Twilight Zone in which a used car salesman comes into ownership of a car that is haunted and forces him to tell the truth so long as he owns it. In particular, one scene that bears a resemblance to an element used in Liar Liar is the part where the salesman's assistant asks for a raise, and he is compelled to come clean that there is no raise.
American Film Institute recognition:
The film is the second of three Carrey/Shadyac collaborations, all of which did extremely well at the box office: the opening weekend made $31,423,025 in 2,845 theaters. In North America, the film made $181,410,615, and at the box office in other territories it made $121,300,000 for a total of $302,710,615.
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