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review added: 3/30/00



Liar Liar
Collector's Edition - 1997 (1999) - Universal

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Liar Liar: Collector's Edition Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/B

Specs and Features

87 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, commentary with director Tom Shadyac, behind-the-scenes featurette Bridging the Comedy Chasm, deleted scene, outtakes, photo gallery, production notes, cast and filmmakers biographies, theatrical trailer, Universal web links, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (26 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English


"I wish, for just one day, Dad couldn't tell a lie."

Like it or lump it, Jim Carrey is maturing as an actor. Liar Liar marks Carrey's first foray into a role that requires a bit more emotional involvement than his past projects. Sure, there is enough face contorting, clumsiness, and general physical comedy to appease Carrey's fans from the days of Ace Ventura and In Living Color, but this was the first time I ever watched Jim Carrey perform, and say "Wow. Maybe this guy has some range." Interspersed within the outrageous Carrey brand of physical humor are moments where he successfully conveys true emotion and actual acting abilities beyond falling down or pulling his lip over his head.

Fletcher Reede (Carrey) is a very successful lawyer who has built his prosperity by stretching, bending, manipulating, and contorting the truth to the benefit of his clients... and lies upon lies are required to spring these seedy and undeserving people. The problem is, Fletcher also lies to his ex-wife, Audrey (Maura Tierney) and young son, Max (Justin Cooper). Max loves his dad very much, but begins to realize how much his dad's lies are hurting him and his mother. After Fletcher skips Max's fifth birthday party for a little casual sex (and of course lying about why he is missing the party), Max makes a wish before blowing out his birthday candles - a wish that for 24 hours, his dad can't lie. His wish comes true, leaving Fletcher unable to lie... in any way. If he tries, he inadvertently blurts out the truth, or stammers and stutters nonsense in the place of a falsehood. This sounds like a concept that would dry out in about 10 minutes, but Carrey is able to keep the hook entertaining, always varying the failed lie routine.

The plot thickens when Audrey threatens to take Max and move across the country to be with her new boyfriend, Jerry (Cary Elwes). Fletcher must learn that truth is always the best policy if he is to save his relationship with his son.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Carrey in this film, and could not imagine any other actor pulling this off as successfully. The best part is, his humor is not limited to the physical side of comedy. Carrey delivers some great dialog-based comedy with perfect timing and delivery. Plus, the on-screen father-son relationship between Carrey and Cooper is sweet and emotional. The climax sequence at Los Angeles International Airport is a little overdone for my tastes, and there is a bit more physical comedy than I normally care for, but overall, Liar Liar is a very well-spent 87 minutes.

This disc sports a wonderful 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture. Colors are very natural, and images are detailed. There is not a hint of distracting motion artifacts. The overall visual presentation is smooth and film-like. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does a good job for a mostly dialog-oriented soundtrack. Voices are easily intelligible and the music fills the soundstage. If this soundtrack has a fault, it's that it is a little narrow in places. This is not a disc you'd use to show off your shiny new Dolby Digital sound system, but it serves its purpose well for a comedy.

This is actually the third DVD version of Liar Liar. Universal released two previous versions, both in a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio, with one disc having Dolby Digital audio and the other DTS. These were standard releases, lacking the supplemental features of this edition. I was happy to see Universal finally release a widescreen version of this film (and anamorphic to boot) with a nice amount of supplements.

The commentary track with director Tom Shadyac is informative, but is mostly an exercise in worship of Jim Carrey. You kinda get the idea that Shadyac really likes this gangly fellow. The director does offer neat some tidbits. For example, "The Claw" is something that Jim Carrey's father used to do with him when he was young. And Jason Bernard (the actor who played Judge Stevens) passed away on the last day of shooting. The single deleted scene included on this disc is a 5-minute courtroom scene, intended to build the character of Fletcher. The available outtakes are amusing, but not as hilarious as the set included during the closing credits. The behind-the-scenes featurette is worth a look as well.

Liar Liar is a darling movie, that has a great mix of comedy and emotion. If you've passed on this flick because of a dislike for Jim Carrey, you're doing yourself quite a disservice. Liar Liar marks Carrey's entrance into a wider acting range (he followed up this movie with critically acclaimed performances in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon). This Universal DVD has a spectacular anamorphic widescreen picture, a pleasing 5.1 soundtrack, and an entertaining set of supplements. Honestly. Hey, would I lie to you?

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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