Telling Lies in America (1997)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Music  |  15 October 1997 (USA)
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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 ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Magic
Karchy 'Chucky' Jonas
Dr. Istvan Jonas
Father Norton
Kevin Boyle
Damen Fletcher ...
Amos 'Blood Smith'
Jerry Swindall ...
Andy 'Croak' Stas
K.K. Dodds ...
Cecil Simms
J.J. Horna ...
The Blind Kid
Ben Saypol ...
Timmy Morelli
Danny Hogan
Rohn Thomas ...
Sgt. Disapri


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Just don't get caught. See more »


Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sex related situations | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 October 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Magic Man  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$11,470 (USA) (17 October 1997)


$252,318 (USA) (14 November 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was one of the first seven films to be foreclosed by the Screen Actors Guild for non-payment of wages and residuals to SAG members. On 13 July 2004, rights to the film were sold at auction. See more »


About two-thirds through the movie, when Karchy picks his girlfriend up at the store after (her) work, they walk down a handicap wheelchair ramp which didn't exist in the 1960's. See more »


Karchy Jonas: [sing while combing his hair] Hey, hey, what do you say... Karchy Jonas is coming your way...
Karchy Jonas: ...How are you darlin'?
See more »


It's Gonna Work Out Fine
Performed by Ike & Tina Turner (as Ike and Tina Turner)
Written by Rose Marie McCoy (as Rose McCoy), Silvia McKinney
Courtesy of EMI Records
Under License from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

Pants on Fire
14 December 2008 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

In the early 1960s, Cleveland, Ohio immigrant teenager Brad Renfro (as Karchy Jonas) struggles with adolescence and assimilation. Mr. Renfro is working on eradicating the remnants of his Hungarian accent (his "th" sound). Meanwhile, slick disc jockey Kevin Bacon (as Billy Magic) arrives in town (one step ahead of the law), to spin "sweaty collar and dirty fingernail music" on the local rock 'n' roll radio station. Mr. Bacon is a payola player, who needs an underage kid to handle money illegal exchanges. When Renfro cheats on a radio contest, Bacon offers him big bucks to serve as "unwitting accomplice"...

Bacon swaggers through his role with perfection. And, Renfro is incredible, in a very difficult role; capturing the vulnerability of youth, as he struggles to both adopt and resist Bacon's seductive persona. Calista Flockhart (as Diney Majeski) is very effective, as Renfro's "older woman" love interest. Their performances should have received some award consideration. Maximilian Schell (as Istvan Jonas) would have been more believable as Renfro's grandfather, to support the obviously wider than envisioned cultural gap between the characters. A few of the scenes are silly, but many more work, due to director Guy Ferland and his convincing cast.

"I make things up sometimes," Renfro reveals. Don't we all. "Telling Lies in America" certainly breaks no new ground - but, it revisits cinematic themes in great style. The film builds to a fine conclusion, and the music is terrific.

******** Telling Lies in America (8/2/97) Guy Ferland ~ Brad Renfro, Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart, Maximilian Schell

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