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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
Yes, the movie deals tangentially with the payola scandals of the 50's (truly a big problem in the entertainment industry), but only as one of the many lies hinted at in the title.
The two main characters (Renfro and Bacon) do *nothing* but lie. They are balanced by the purity of the other characters (Flockhart and Schell).
Schell's character was a little underwhelming and the work by Renfro was, at times, uneven, but both were generally excellent. My only other quibble was with the settings of the film. As a Clevelander (where the story takes place and the film was shot), it's easy to understand the where the scenes took place and how the story was built around them, but I'm not sure that an "outsider" would understand the implications to the story of those different locations (the neighborhoods, the market, etc.).
The real find is Calista Flockhart. She gives a wonderfully nuanced performance, sweeter and deeper than anything you'll see on Ally McBeal. Interestingly, Flockhart spent time working on stage at the Cleveland Playhouse, so was well-suited for the role in a way.
Joe Eszterhas is not exactly known for his subtlety, but this movie is a small triumph for him and portends better things from his pen in the future.
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