Main cast: Frankie Muniz (Jason Shepherd), Paul Giamatti (Marty Wolf), Amanda Bynes (Kaylee), Amanda Detmer (Monty Kirkham), and Donald Adeosun Faison (Frank Jackson)
Director: Shawn Levy
I hesitate to classify this movie as one suitable for kids. On one hand, this movie is very asexual (in the real world, when two 14-year old kids run away for hanky-panky reasons, do you think that they won’t do that kind of hanky-panky?), but on the other hand, if I’m a kid, I will deliberately misconstrue the moral of the story to be: it’s okay to lie as long as you apologize with style.
But what the heck, that’s the problem of parents with kids, not mine. I have a rip-roaring time with this silly movie. Who would’ve thought that Paul Giamatti has such magnificent physical and comedic timing? His villainous Marty Wolf is so over-the-top that he just cracks me up non-stop. Mr Giamatti’s voice, actions, and facial expressions are all perfect. I laugh until I almost break a rib.
This movie pits two liars, 14-year old Jason Shepard versus Marty Wolf. The trouble begins when Marty gives Jason a lift and ends up having Jason’s composition in his possession. He uses this composition as the basis of his new movie, Big Fat Liar. Jason, who is in deep trouble with his teacher and parents over the missing composition, is enraged when he learns from TV what Marty had done. He and his girl buddy Kaylee – both their parents are conveniently away – then wreck havoc and mayhem in the Universal studio and in Marty’s life. But Marty is no easy picking either. The fight is on!
Amanda Bynes is a bit wooden at times, but Frankie Muniz plays the precocious brat the way he does on Malcolm in the Middle to perfection. He and Marty are really alike in that both are not as smart as each thinks he is, and watching them outwit each other is a hoot. The sabotages become more and more outrageous, culminating in a Mission: Impossible-type plot involving those two brats and everyone in Hollywood (it seems) who has a grudge against Marty.
There is a throwaway plug about honesty, blah blah blah, but it’s all too subtle to annoy me. What’s fun is laughing at the whole hilarious nonsense of this movie, as well as to play Spot the Sets and Props in every scene (this movie is set in the Universal studio, so watch out for props, sets, and characters from well-known Universal movies). But the sight of Mr Giamatti with blue skin and orange hair is worth the price of the ticket alone.
Big Fat Liar doesn’t seem to know at times whether it wants to be a kiddie movie or one for teenagers (angry granny screeching “Up yours, Blue Boy!” and kiddie honesty thingies don’t seem to belong in the same movie), but nonetheless, this is a fine laugh-a-minute marathon. It’s nonsense, but it’s a good kind of nonsense.