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.
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. It has been unofficially remade in Bollywood as Kyo Kii... Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta.
In Los Angeles, career-focused lawyer Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) loves his son Max (Justin Cooper), but the constant lying he engages in for his career often cause problems between them and with his ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tieney), who has become involved with another man named Jerry (Cary Elwes). In court, Fletcher is willing to exaggerate the stories of his clients, and his current client, the self-centered, money-grabbing Samantha Cole (Jennifer Tilly) has garnered the attention of Mr. Allen (Mitchell Ryan), a partner at the law firm in which Fletcher works. If Fletcher wins this case, it will bring his firm a fortune and boost his career. Fletcher calls and lies to Audrey about missing Max's birthday due to work, when he is actually having sex with his boss, Miranda (Amanda Donohoe), 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.
The following day, Fletcher immediately realizes that he is unable to do anything dishonest. He cannot lie to people or even mislead by withholding a true answer, and often uncontrollably blurts out vulgar and painful truths that anger his co-workers. His car is impounded after admitting his many moving violations and unpaid parking tickets to a police officer. This comes to a head when he realizes that he is unable to even ask questions when he knows the answer will be a lie, which hinders them as Samantha and her affair partner Kenneth Faulk (Chip Mayer) are willing to commit perjury to win the high-profile case and he cannot ask him the questions they have been given answers for.
Realizing that Max had wished for this to happen, Fletcher tries to convince him that adults need to lie, but he cannot give any type of answer as to why he should continue to lie to his son. Fletcher also figures out that since Max wished for him to tell the truth for only one day, he tries to do what he can to delay Samantha's case since the magic wish will expire at 8:15 p.m., 24 hours after Max made the wish. Things only get worse for Fletcher as he loses his loyal assistant Greta (Anne Haney) after admitting he had lied about the miserly reasons for denying her pay raises and the "expensive" gifts he gave her, and Audrey tells Fletcher that she and Max are moving to Boston with Jerry in order to prevent any more heartbreaks from Fletcher's broken promises.
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 against Samantha and her husband's prenuptial agreement. He even goes so far as to beat himself up in a bathroom and claim that someone attacked him in order to try and avoid the case (not strictly lying as he describes his attacker as a madman with a vague description that still matches him), but when asked if he feels like he can continue, he cannot deny it and says yes. During the case, 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 Mr. Cole's estate, allowing him to win the case truthfully. However, when Samantha decides to contest full custody of their children, who Mr. Cole dearly loves, just because she wants more money from the child support payments, Fletcher regrets mentioning the technicality after seeing Samantha pull the children out of their father's arms, and shriek her demands for more money. Realizing now that winning the case has punished the loving husband and rewarded the cheating wife, Fletcher has a crisis of conscience and shouts at the judge (Jason Bernard), demanding that he reverse the decision, but the judge has him 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.
Greta returns and bails Fletcher from jail revealing she has forgiven him. 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. However, Fletcher's victory is cut short when he crashes into a barrier and is sent flying into a baggage tug, which causes a chain reaction that leaves Fletcher unconscious and with both of his legs broken. After waking up, he tells Max how much he cares about him and how sorry he was for breaking his promises. Despite no longer being under the wish's influence, Fletcher means what he says and adds that Max is his priority, and Max convinces Audrey to stay in Los Angeles.
One year later, Fletcher is healed and is running his own law firm with Greta as his continued assistant. Max makes a wish with his birthday cake and the lights come on to reveal Fletcher and Audrey kissing, but explains he wished for rollerblades instead of them reconciling. Fletcher 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
- Carrey additionally briefly reprises his role as Fire Marshall Bill from the sketch comedy show In Living Color in a cameo appearance.
- 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:
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs - Nominated
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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