Yes Man, Carrey is a Lawyer and a Liar
In the outtakes which make up the end credits to "Liar Liar" there is one where Jim Carrey is stopped in his tracks when he is accused of over acting, it's a great outtake and sums up pretty much what "Liar Liar" is all about. Whilst the storyline may have a moralistic message about how being a liar is wrong and wouldn't be out of place in a Frank Capra movie, "Liar Liar" is really all about the comedy and the over acting of Jim Carrey to deliver laugh after laugh be it through a visual gag, some face pulling or a witty line of dialogue. As such "Liar Liar" is most definitely not a subtle movie and the moral message is slammed home with a sledge hammer but watching Jim Carrey do what he does best, comedy which relies on his over acting, makes for an entertaining way to spend 86 minutes.
Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey - The Cable Guy) is good at his job, in fact he is very good because being a Lawyer he finds his ability to lie helps win cases. But Fletcher isn't very good at being a father and constantly lets down his son Max (Justin Cooper) when he promises something. After the latest let down on Max's birthday the young boy wishes that for just one day his father couldn't lie and suddenly Fletcher's life is turned upside down when the wish comes true. With a big divorce case to represent it seems that Fletcher's temporary inability to lie will be his downfall but maybe the forced period of truthfulness will open his eyes to what is important in his life especially as his ex wife Audrey (Maura Tierney - Instinct) is planning to move across country with Max to start a new life with her boyfriend Jerry (Cary Elwes - Days of Thunder).
There is something rather old fashioned about "Liar Liar" not in the comedy or the acting but in that the storyline is basically about a man, a lawyer who learns the error of his ways when he is forced to tell the truth for 24 hours thanks to his son making a birthday wish. It's sort of reminiscent to some of the movies of Frank Capra and Henry Koster where they would deliver fun inter mixed with a moral message. But whilst these older movies worked the moral message in a semi-subtle matter Tom Shadyac uses a sledge hammer to hit home the message in "Liar Liar". In fact the opening scenes where a sad looking Max says his dad works as a liar pretty much sets up the inevitable outcome long before the movie gets going. As such "Liar Liar" is predictable and you know that by the time the movie ends in a typical happy ever after way Fletcher will have discovered not only that lying is wrong but also what is important to him, yes his estranged son and ex wife.
Although less than subtle when it comes to delivering this moralistic message "Liar Liar" is really a movie all about the comedy and in particular the comedy of Jim Carrey and his rubber face and flailing limbs. Every single funny moment revolves around Carrey basically over acting for laughs and it has to be said he pulls it off quite brilliantly. Yes by the time "Liar Liar" comes to an end many of the gags feel like they have been repeated but watching Carrey contort himself as if he was having a painful bowel movement when he can't lie is great fun. And so are the amusing scenes where he blurts out the truth such as when having bedded his boss tells her he has had better or explaining to the lady in the lift that she is popular because she has big jugs. As such "Liar Liar" is one of Jim Carrey's better movies, not because he gives a great performance but because 90% of the jokes he fires at us end up being funny.
The downside of this is that in the few scenes which don't feature Jim Carrey things get remarkably dull. Now I am sure it was intentional but the amount cheese which Carl Elwes serves up as the overly nice Jerry was sickening and just not funny. And whilst Justin Cooper fits the bill as Max the cute kid who is sad every time his father lets him down he is also very annoying.
Not all of the supporting performances are bad as Maura Tierney doesn't have to do much but effectively delivers the mother torn between an unreliable ex husband and what is best for her son. And Amanda Donohoe is fun as Fletcher's sexy and also manipulatively evil boss although Anney Haney as Greta steals many a scene as does Jennifer Tilly who plays the pneumatic Samantha Cole.
What this all boils down to is that "Liar Liar" is a fun movie and one of Jim Carrey's best. It's most certainly not subtle be it when it comes to the comedy or the moralistic message it throws at you but with Carrey on great form as the Lawyer who learns that being a liar isn't good it most certainly manages to be good fun.