Big Fat Liar (2002) starring Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, Amanda Bynes, Amanda Detmer, Donald Faison, Sandra Oh directed by Shawn Levy Movie Review

Big Fat Liar (2002)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes in Big Fat Liar (2002)

Natural Born Liar

For about the first half hour "Big Fat Liar" felt like someone had decided to turn "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" into a promotional piece for Universal Studios. And then it happens and it is no spoiler to say what I am about to because it is well known, Paul Giamatti ends up looking like a ginger haired Smurf. At that point something happens; I think that I stopped caring about the story and just sat back to enjoy all the visual humour, which there is a lot of, and some fun performances. In fairness "Big Fat Liar" was a movie made for a younger audience than me and as entertainment for young teens it works.

Jason Shepherd (Frankie Muniz) is a liar, in fact he is a habitual liar from the minute he wakes up to the minute he goes to bed which is really bad considering he is still at school. And those lies get him in to a lot of trouble when he accidentally loses his essay with it falling into the hands of Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti) as no one will believe him. With the threat of a summer doing catch up Jason persuades his best friend Kaylee (Amanda Bynes) to head to Hollywood with him to get Marty to call his parents and tell them that Jason is telling the truth. Unfortunately for Jason Marty is a bigger liar than even he is.

Paul Giamatti in Big Fat Liar (2002)

Now I mentioned "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" at the start of this review and the opening which sees Jason lying and scamming is like an update on the 80s classic. After that it does then focus on the whole story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" as Jason discovers that his life of lying means no one believes him when he eventually tells the truth. But whilst there is a moral to this comedy as Jason learns that honesty is the best policy in truth the movie is about the look and the gags.

The look well to start with from a cynical adults point of view "Big Fat Liar" comes across like a promotional piece for Universal Studios. From Jason and Kaylee taking the tour bus to them dossing in the props room where we get such delights as an E.T. model and many other recognizable props. It is fun but it does feel like it has all been designed to have children asking their parents to head there for their holidays.

And then there is the humour which loosely is about Marty being to clever for Jason and then Jason getting revenge with the help of all those who dislike Marty. It is fun but mainly for one great gag which ends up with Giamatti looking like a ginger haired Smurf whilst we hear Eiffel 65's "Blue (Da Ba Dee)". I say one great gag but I suspect a lot of the humour works for the younger audience who this was intended for.

What really helps "Big Fat Liar" is that it has a great cast with both Frankie Muniz and Paul Giamatti delivering the goods. Whilst Muniz is convincing as a young boy who has the smarts to pull of hustles Giamatti commits to every joke in a wonderfully over the top manner be it looking like a ginger haired Smurf or driving through fake snow with it flicking up in his face. But the supporting cast is just as good be it Lee Majors as a disgruntled stuntman or Sandra Oh as Jason's teacher. There is also Amanda Bynes as Jason's best friend Kaylee and in truth she plays the part well but is outshone by both Muniz and Giamatti.

What this all boils down to is that "Big Fat Liar" is entertaining with some memorable scenes especially Paul Giamatti looking like a ginger haired Smurf. But it is a movie made for young teens and is more entertaining for that market than anyone else.