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Karchy (Brad Renfro) is a boy in school who has moved from Hungary to America in the 1960's. He is struggling in school and trying to adjust to America's culture. He then hears about a radio DJ Billy Magic (Kevin Bacon) who holds a contest for a Student Hall of Fame every week. When Karchy finally wins after several weeks, he spends more time with Billy Magic...a man with money, girls, and glam. Karchy thinks that by spending time with Magic, he can become "cool". He then starts telling lies, to make himself seem greater than he really is. But when his lies begin hurting the people he cares about, he realizes that it isn't worth telling lies if it affects your friends. Afterwards, he learns to accept himself for the person he is, and gives up lying. And as for Billy Magic, it turns out that he pays his price for all the lies that he has told as well.... Written by
"Telling Lies in America" is a film that seems to have gone directly to video. It certainly deserved a wider audience because what Guy Ferland, the director does with the screen play Joe Eszterhas wrote for the film. Mr. Eszterhas is a man that can write, although some of his efforts have misfired.
If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you should stop reading here.
The basic problem with the film is the casting of Brad Renfro as the main character of the film. While this actor is not a bad actor, he seems miscast as this Karchy Jonas. Most comments in this forum focus on the fact Karchy has no accent, but having been in Cleveland for about seven years, explain that he already has a command of the language. Yes, he might stumble upon certain words, as shown in the film, but basically the character is believable. The only thing is that Mr. Renfro looks an older fourteen, rather than the seventeen he is in the film.
This fact becomes painfully apparent in his relationship with Diney, and with the older woman Billy decides to have him experience sex for the first time. We are not saying it's not possible, because it can easily have been the case, which might have been derived from an experience of Mr. Eszterhas life.
The other thing that doesn't ring true is the relationship between Karchy and his father. It appears that he can do whatever he wants and it's OK with the old man. Usually in the case of immigrant families, it's just the opposite. People immigrating to this country tend to be more protective, demanding discipline and obedience that is nowhere to be seen in the film. Also, Karchy's behavior in school would have probably grounded him forever, but it never comes into play.
The marvelous Kevin Bacon is the best asset this film has going for itself. Not only is Mr. Bacon the most versatile of the current actors working in films, he brings such an intelligent take to his take on Billy Magic, the DJ of the local radio station that sees right through the lies Karchy Jonas tells. Being a liar himself, Billy can pick a liar whenever he sees one, as is the case when he meets Jonas. Billy Magic has no scruples. He takes money from the record companies, but he has Karchy pick the envelopes.
The cast is good. Maximilian Schell, plays the father, Dr. Jonas, a man so decent, one wonders where did Karchy go wrong. He seems to be a loving father, albeit a distant one. Is it perhaps the fact that the son has embraced the American culture with too much gusto? That might explain the difference, although Karchy is never disrespectful to the old man.
Calista Flockhart is seen as Diney, the mousy worker at the poultry shop where young Karchy works after school. Ms. Flockhart is perfect as the older girl that inspires love in the young man. Luke Wilson is seen as the man in charge of the shop. Paul Dooley makes a wonderful Father Norton, the man who dares put Karchy in his place.
Notable in the film is the use of the popular songs that one hears in the sound track. It made perfect sense the use of those tunes since the background is a popular radio station that catered to teenagers.
This is a film that should be seen by more people because of the good work the director and screen writer have done.
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