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Karchy (Brad Renfro) is a boy in school who has moved from Hungary to America in the 1960s. 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
According to Joe Eszterhas in his book, "Hollywood Animal", he wrote the script for this film in the early eighties and spent years trying to sell it. Then his wife read it and suggested that he should increase the role of Karchy's father, who was "too much in the background". Eszterhas followed her advice and re-wrote the script, changing the original title "Magic Man" to "Telling Lies in America", so it would look like a brand new script. Director Guy Ferland eventually read it and committed to do it as he was willing to do a "coming of age" film. 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 »
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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