This review was started earlier this year and was meant to be the start of a reoccurring feature that revisits media from a long time ago to see if it still holds. That concept has now been birthed into a podcast that you can find here - https://anchor.fm/so-do-we-still-like-this - but I wanted to at least post this so it didn’t get lost to time.
When Liar Liar was released in 1997, I was obsessed with Jim Carrey. Around that time I would have told you that he was my favourite actor and starred in all my favourite movies. When The Mask came out on VHS, my friends and I kept a running tally of how many days in a row we watched the movie. I don't remember the final count other than it was likely far, far too many times. Dumb and Dumber only came out to rent, not purchase (crazy to think that used to happen all the time) and I wouldn't stand for waiting so I actually filmed the TV with a video camera so I could have a copy of the movie to keep. I even loved Batman Forever and the second Ace Ventura movie. Liar Liar would have had to become sentient and punch me in the balls for me not to have loved it.
It's a couple decades later now and the Jim Carrey shine wore off a long time ago. I think Bruce Almighty is what turned me as I remember watching that in theatres thinking "He needs to tone it down at least 10 notches." Now Carrey hasn't starred in a movie since Dumb and Dumber To and last I heard I think was going to be on trial for murder? I'm not sure. With my frightening affinity for Carrey long behind me, and my wife having never seen the movie, a revisit of Liar Liar felt in order.
Man...this movie is Jim Carrey as fuuuuuuck.
You know the plot. Carrey plays asshole lawyer Fletcher Reede whose fibbing abilities make him a great lawyer but a shit father to his son Max. He is a constant no-show in his son's life, even missing his birthday party in order to have sex with his boss in the hopes of helping his chances at a promotion. When it comes time for his son to blow out the candles and make a wish, he wishes that his dad loses the ability to lie for just 24 hours. Wackiness ensues.
Fletcher Reede is the closest to a normal human being Carrey had played at this point but he is still a Jim Carrey character through and through. Lots of physical comedy, silly faces and yelling. They do at least find plausible reasons for it. He's silly in the beginning to amuse his son, he's over the top as a lawyer because he's a showman and wants to sway his client in his preferred direction and once the wish is in effect, he's a living cartoon because of the crazy situation he's in. If you had/have no tolerance for Carrey's style of comedy then you are not going to be swayed here.
As a kid (though I guess I was 13 so saying kid is a bit of stretch) I ate that shit up. The hokey plot stuff was just getting in the way of Jim Carrey falling down and beating himself up. While I still got some laughs out of that now (the pen scene is still great), it was the other stuff I definitely appreciated more this time around. I enjoyed the quieter moments when Carrey calmed the fuck down for a few minutes and just said some funny lines. I also paid more attention to the story stuff and had a realization - the step-dad character really gets screwed in this movie.
Fletcher's ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney) is now dating Jerry (Cary Elwes), a generally likable guy who is undeniable a doofus. He loves Audrey and he loves Max. You keep waiting for the typical movie twist where he is cheating on her or secretly hates Max or murders people in the night so that you feel ok about him being dumped. That twist never happens. He stays a good guy who wants to marry Audrey and have everyone come live with him in Boston and take Max to baseball games. His only real sin is that he sucks at "the claw." I'm not saying a happy ending would be for Audrey to move in with a guy she clearly doesn't have strong feelings for, but at the end of this movie he moves to Boston heart-broken and alone. I respect the movie for not taking the easy way out with his character and have him be a secret cannibal or whatever, but I would have taken even a throw-away moment that hints at him having some happiness to look forward to.
Liar Liar is still an enjoyable watch but your tolerance for it is going to be directly equal to your tolerance for Jim Carrey going full Jim Carrey. It’s a good premise for a movie that is executed on very well, and it’s fun to return to a time of the high concept comedy which you don’t see too much of these days. So yes, yes I do still Liar Liar.