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A take on the classic tale 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf', this is the story of a 14-year-old boy named Jason Shephard who lies for the fun of it. He loses an important story assignment entitled 'Big Fat Liar' in movie producer Marty Wolf's limo, which Wolf then turns into a film. When Jason sees a movie preview of his story, he and his best friend Kaylee go to Los Angeles to make Wolf confess to using his story, to clear his name, and to get him out of having to attend summer school. The teen liar then has to match wits with Wolf, who also turns out to be a big liar. Written by
Lindsay Lohan, who was 14 years old at the time of production, was originally signed on to play Kaylee. She dropped out shortly before filming began, deciding to take a temporary hiatus from acting for a year. She was replaced with Amanda Bynes. See more »
The headline in Variety uses the word "Prez" to refer to the new president of the studio. Variety would always use "Prexy", not "Prez". See more »
[Frank has busted Kaylee and Jason]
I got some R-rated dialogue, but I'm gonna keep it PG. I'm gonna keep it PG!
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`Big Fat Liar' offers a lively contemporary spin on the Boy Who Cried Wolf legend. Jason Shepherd is a 14-year-old inveterate liar who spends most of his time devising elaborate yarns to keep himself out of trouble with his parents and teachers. One day, through an amazing fluke, he meets up with a nefarious movie producer named Marty Wolf who steals Shepherd's story idea a composition he wrote for his English class entitled `Big Fat Liar' and proceeds to make a movie out of it. When Jason's parents refuse to believe their son's outlandish tale, the youngster heads out to Hollywood to confront Wolf and make him verify his story. When Wolf refuses to do this, Jason concocts an elaborate scheme to make Wolf's life a living hell until he relents and helps make things right back home.
Kids will love `Big Fat Liar' for the simple reason that it works as pure adolescent fantasy wish-fulfillment on several levels. First, it shows a youngster getting the rare opportunity of turning a major studio backlot into his own personal playground (the film sometimes feels like a 90-minute commercial for Universal Studios' behind-the-scenes tour). Second, it feeds the desire we all have to watch the tables being turned on a certified rascal. And, third, like any good fantasy for children, it puts the kids in a position of power over the adult world. Jason and his pretty cohort, Kaylee, get to call the shots and pull the strings that eventually get the grownups to pay attention and listen to them.
`Big Fat Liar' might actually have been a better film had it resisted the tendency to overdo so much of its comedy. In fact, the best parts of the film occur near the beginning when Jason and his adventures stay connected to the real world. Once he gets to Hollywood, the film loses a bit of its edge. The cleverness and wit of the film's opening stretches give way to overwrought plot mechanics and over-the-top slapstick. The film has a great deal of undeniable energy, but subtlety can be a virtue as well and we miss that sense of sly fun that defines the film's ambiance early on.
Still, `Big Fat Liar' has more to recommend it than the average teen comedy. First of all, it stars the marvelous Frankie Muniz (`Malcolm in the Middle') who has energy and charm to spare in the role of Jason and who literally keeps the film bouncing along even when the comic setups don't always pay off as well as they should. Muniz is one child actor I will miss when he grows too old to still play these parts. Amanda Byrnes is equally likable as Jason's conspiratorial companion, Kaylee. And even though Paul Giamatti seems to be doing a Jim Carrey impersonation through large sections of the film, this fine comic actor hits heights of magnificent manic madness as the put-upon, hissable villain of the piece. The movie also has a fun time ribbing many of the elements of Hollywood culture from the unemployed `actors' working as chauffeurs to the has-beens looking for that big career turnabout to the insipid material that often serves as the basis for big studio productions (a movie about a cop teamed up with a crime-fighting chicken is the example here).
`Big Fat Liar' provides mixed blessings for the sophisticated adult audience, but youngsters should enjoy it all.
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