BIG FAT LIAR, a new family film, tells a story of mythic proportions. There is the young fallen hero, who must travel to a mythical land – in this case Hollywood – to do battle with one of the biggest monsters on the face of the planet – a Hollywood studio executive. In the story, child actor Frankie Muniz plays Jason, a 14-year-old caught in a lie who must expose a cheating Hollywood studio executive, played by Paul Giamatti, in order to restore his father’s faith in him.
BIG FAT LIAR is energetically filmed and performed. Its story could use a little help in the humor department, but Paul Giamatti makes a funny villain, and Frankie Muniz is a worthy, intelligent hero with plenty of outrageous schemes at his fingertips. Morally speaking, Jason’s scheming and practical jokes are not something parents would want their children to emulate. Still, truth wins out in the end. This moral lesson comes through strongly at the end. There are also a couple times in the picture where characters look skyward, appealing to God for help. BIG FAT LIAR deserves a mild caution, especially for younger children and commendation for its virtues
(BB, L, V, N, A, D, M) Moral worldview supports telling the truth & honoring one’s father, rebukes lying & includes a couple appeals to God for help; about four light obscenities, five mild profanities (“My God”) & one vulgarity; comic violence includes bullies steal teenager’s skateboard, teenager on child’s bike runs into limousine, man jumps out of car, car bumps into another car, children wrestle man, & implied kick in the groin; no sex but by poses as girl to fool elderly, myopic woman; bare-chested man in swimming trunks; alcohol use; smoking cigar; and, deception, lying ultimately rebuked, young teenager does things without parental permission, practical jokes, stealing, & father tells son, “Making up stories seems to be your God-given talent.”
BIG FAT LIAR, a new family film, tells a story of mythic proportions. There is the young fallen hero, who must travel to a mythical land – in this case Hollywood – to do battle with one of the biggest monsters on the face of the planet – a Hollywood studio executive. In overcoming these trials and tribulations, the hero not only wins the respect of his girlfriend, but also the respect of his father, who’s become disappointed in the character of his young, precocious son.
Frankie Muniz, the star of TV’s MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, plays 14-year-old Jason Shepherd in BIG FAT LIAR. Jason is exposed as a liar at school. Disappointed in his behavior, the teacher and his parents give Jason one afternoon to turn in the story he was supposed to turn in that morning, but lied about in order to escape punishment. Otherwise, it’s off to summer school.
Jason finally buckles down and writes what he thinks is a pretty good story, which he titles “Big Fat Liar.” On the way to the teacher’s night school class, however, a limousine bangs into Jason’s bicycle. The limo happens to be driven by big-time Hollywood producer and studio executive, Marty Wolf, played by Paul Giamatti. Jason threatens Wolf with a physical injury lawsuit unless he drives him to meet his teacher. Wolf agrees, but Jason accidentally leaves his story in Marty’s limo, so it’s off to summer school after all, even though Jason tells everybody the truth about leaving the story in Wolf’s limo.
That summer, Jason and his cute friend, Kaylee, see a preview of Marty Wolf’s next movie, which looks exactly like the story Jason wrote. Jason once again tells his father that Marty has his story, but Jason’s father refuses to believe his son, because of the lies he earlier told everyone. When Jason’s parents go off together on a weekend trip, Jason decides to use his grass-cutting money to fly with Kaylee out to Los Angeles to confront Wolf. All Jason wants is for Wolf to call his father and tell him the truth. Wolf, however, proves to be a more wily opponent than Jason expected. In fact, he’s the Big Fat Liar of All Liars.
BIG FAT LIAR is energetically filmed and performed. Its story could use a little help in the humor department, but Paul Giamatti makes a funny villain, and Frankie Muniz is a worthy, intelligent hero with plenty of outrageous schemes at his fingertips. The resolution of the conflict between these titans is appropriately satisfying. Getting there, however, is not as memorably hilarious as something like last year’s RAT RACE.
Morally speaking, Jason’s scheming and practical jokes are not something parents would want their children to emulate. Still, truth wins out in the end, and Jason and his father experience a nice bonding moment after the climax to the story. “The truth is never over-rated,” Jason proclaims at the end. Parents might also object to scenes where Jason and Kaylee convince one of the school bullies to dress as Kaylee in order to fool her aging, myopic grandmother and scenes where the Marty Wolf character spouts a light obscenity or two. Also, there’s only about one light scatological joke in BIG FAT LIAR, though there is a scene where it’s implied that Wolf receives a kick in the groin from one kid.
Therefore, BIG FAT LIAR seems to deserve a mild caution, especially for younger children aged 7 to 11 or 12, though it’s possible that the movie deserves a +2 rather than just a +1. The moral lesson of the movie comes through strongly at the end. There are also a couple times in the picture where characters look skyward, as if appealing to God for help.
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