Liar Liar
The words "TRUST ME" and a man in a suit with his arms open wide
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom Shadyac
Written by
  • Paul Guay
  • Stephen Mazur
Produced byBrian Grazer
Starring
CinematographyRussell Boyd
Edited byDon Zimmerman
Music byJohn Debney
James Newton Howard (theme)
Production
company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • March 18, 1997 (1997-03-18) (Hollywood)
  • March 21, 1997 (1997-03-21) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$45 million[2]
Box office$302.7 million[1]

Liar Liar is a 1997 American fantasy comedy film directed by Tom Shadyac, and written by Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur. It stars Jim Carrey as a lawyer who built his entire career on lying, but finds himself cursed to speak only the truth for a single day, during which he struggles to maintain his career and to reconcile with his former wife and son whom he alienated with his pathological lying.

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—the second of three collaborations between Guay and Mazur—the others being The Little Rascals and Heartbreakers—and the first collaboration between Carrey and producer Brian Grazer.

Liar Liar was released to critical and commercial success, grossing $302.7 million against a budget of $45 million and earning positive reviews from critics and audiences, who particularly praised Carrey's performance. At the 56th Golden Globe Awards, Carrey was nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy.

Plot

Fletcher Reede is a lawyer and divorced father living in Los Angeles. He loves spending time with his young son Max; they often play a game where Fletcher makes his hand into "the Claw", with which he tickles Max and pretends to chase him. However, Fletcher has a habit of giving precedence to his career, breaking promises to Max and his former wife Audrey, and then lying about the reasons. Fletcher's compulsive lying has also built him a reputation as a successful defense lawyer at his firm. On Max's birthday, Fletcher misses Max's party when senior partner Miranda lures him to get promoted by having sex in the office. Max makes a birthday wish that Fletcher would be unable to tell a lie for an entire day—a wish that immediately becomes true.

Fletcher soon discovers, through a series of embarrassing incidents, that he is unable to lie, mislead, or even withhold a true answer. These incidents are inconvenient, ranging from sleeping with the senior partner in vain when she dumps him right after the sex due to his honest review about it, and as he is fighting a divorce case which could boost his career. His client is Samantha Cole, a gold digger. His main witness, Kenneth Falk, with whom Samantha has been cheating on her husband Richard Cole, is eager to commit perjury to win, but Fletcher discovers that he cannot even ask a question if he knows the answer will be a lie; he even objects to himself when he tries to lie to get the desired information. Meanwhile, Audrey is planning to move to Boston with her new fiancé Jerry, and decides that Max will go with them to protect him from the disappointment Fletcher causes him when he breaks his promises.

Fletcher tries desperately to delay the case, even beating himself up, but is unable to lie his way into a continuance. On the verge of losing the case, he discovers that Samantha had lied about her age and therefore had signed the prenuptial agreement as a minor without parental consent, rendering the contract void. This entitles Samantha to 50% of Richard's marital assets, equal to $11.395 million, allowing Fletcher to win the case truthfully. However, Samantha also insists on contesting custody of their children for an extra $10,000 in monthly child support payments from Richard. A disheartened Fletcher, realizing that he had corrupted Samantha with his own lies, watches as she pulls her crying children out of Richard's arms. Horrified by his mistake, Fletcher demands that the judge reverse the decision, but his attitude angers the judge and he is arrested for contempt of court. Fletcher calls Audrey to bail him out, but she informs him that their plane leaves for Boston that night; his bail is eventually paid by his secretary, Greta.

Recognizing Max as his highest priority, Fletcher rushes to the airport, but Audrey and Max's flight has already left the terminal. In desperation, he hijacks a mobile stairway to pursue the plane onto the runway. After throwing one of his shoes at the plane's windshield, it finally stops, but Fletcher is injured after he crashes the mobile stairway. On a stretcher, Fletcher vows to Max that he will spend more time with him. He points out that it has been over 24 hours since Max's birthday wish, but Max believes him. Ultimately, Audrey and Max decide not to move to Boston with Jerry, who goes on his own to run a hospital.

One year later, Fletcher and Audrey are celebrating Max's birthday. Max makes a birthday wish, only to find that Fletcher and Audrey are kissing. Fletcher asks Max if he wished for them to get back together, but Max says he only wished for roller blades. The family returns to normal as Fletcher chases Audrey and Max around the house with "the Claw".

Cast

In addition to portraying Fletcher Reede, Carrey has a cameo appearance as Fire Marshall Bill at the end of the film, seeing to Reede's injuries after he crashes a mobile stairway, reprising his role from In Living Color.[3] 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 before he died in 2014, and Jason Bernard, who died shortly after filming was completed. The film was dedicated in Bernard's memory.[4]

Production

The original script treatment, first penned by Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur in 1994, revolved around a scummy real estate agent who lies to clients about houses, and was written to be a potential vehicle for Steve Martin. It was later rewritten by an uncredited Judd Apatow to involve a lawyer, meant for a younger actor "no older than 35", considered for Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, or Eddie Murphy.[5][6] Myers turned it down to instead do Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, while Carrey turned down Austin Powers to instead do Liar Liar, on the condition that frequent collaborator and friend Tom Shadyac could direct.[7] Cary Elwes was cast "by chance" when he ran into Carrey and Shadyac in Hollywood, California; when he asked what they were up to, Carrey responded with "we're about to make a new movie, you wanna be in it?" Elwes agreed on the spot without reading the script.

The film began in development, including principal photography, on July 8 - October 16, 1996. It was filmed in Los Angeles, California.

In an interview, Carrey said filming the movie was very physically demanding on him, "because it was this constant suppression of angst, completely freaking out all the time. I would go home with total exhaustion".[8] According to Carrey, over "a million feet" of film tape was wasted due to people uncontrollably laughing at Carrey's improv.

Reception

Box office

Liar Liar 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. The film was the second-highest, three-day opener ever for Universal Studios, only coming second to Jurassic Park.[9] For five years, it had the largest March opening weekend until it was taken by Ice Age in 2002.[10] 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.[1]

Critical response

Liar Liar received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 82%, based on 62 reviews, with an average rating of 6.90/10. 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."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 70 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[12] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an "A−" grade from an A+ to F scale.[citation needed]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four 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.[13]

Some critics noted similarities between the plot with that of an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "The Whole Truth" where 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.[14][15]

Year-end lists

American Film Institute recognition:

Home media

Liar Liar was released for VHS and Laserdisc on September 30, 1997 by Universal Studios Home Video. The DVD was released on January 20, 1998 in full screen format. DTS Full Screen and Collector's Edition Widescreen versions were also released on DVD the following year. The Blu-ray with Multi-Format (including a Digital Copy and UltraViolet) was released on July 9, 2013. It was also released on the 1990s Best of the Decade Edition on Blu-ray and re-released on October 16, 2018. A new DVD was re-released on May 10, 2016 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. A remastered 25th Anniversary edition was released on Blu-ray through Shout! Factory on January 18, 2022.[17]

References

  1. ^ a b c "Liar Liar (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Liar Liar (1997)". The Numbers. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  3. ^ Kitchener, Shaun (July 9, 2018). "Jim Carrey played ANOTHER role in comedy classic Liar Liar: Did you spot his secret cameo?". express.co.uk.
  4. ^ "Jason Bernard – Biography". IMDB. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Apatow, Judd (April 23, 2000). "How I Got Kicked Out of High School". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  6. ^ Fleming, Michael (June 11, 2003). "Inside Move: It's not plain who will play Jane". Variety. Retrieved June 12, 2019. Aside from “The Cable Guy,” he’s done uncredited script work on “Liar Liar” and “Bruce Almighty.”
  7. ^ "The Untold Truth of Liar Liar".
  8. ^ "Telling The Truth About Comedy 'Liar, Liar'". Lakeland Ledger. March 23, 1997. p. 28.
  9. ^ "Carry's 'Liar Liar' has record opening". Observer-Reporter. March 25, 1997. p. 13.
  10. ^ Susman, Gary (March 19, 2002). "Ice Age enjoys mammoth opening weekend". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on May 26, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  11. ^ "Liar Liar (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  12. ^ "Liar Liar reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 21, 1997). "Liar Liar review". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  14. ^ Hunter, Rob. "Exploring The Twilight Zone #50: The Whole Truth". Film School Rejects. Archived from the original on May 28, 2013.
  15. ^ Handlen, Zack. "The Twilight Zone: "Back There"/"The Whole Truth"". avclub.com.
  16. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees" (PDF). afi.com.
  17. ^ Sluss, Justin (December 2, 2021). "Liar Liar gets a 25th Anniversary Blu-ray in January". HighDefDiscNews. Retrieved February 20, 2022.