Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Big Fat Liar

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Profanity:Some crude language
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:Adult social drinking
Violence/Scariness:Comic peril
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters at all levels
Movie Release Date:2002

In this likeable family comedy, Jason Shepherd (Frankie Muniz of “Malcolm in the Middle”) plays an 8th grader who relies on his easy smile and even easier lies to keep him out of trouble, with a little help from his reluctant but loyal friend Kaylee (Nickelodeon’s Amanda Bynes). But it all catches up with him when he tells his teacher an elaborate story about being late with his homework because his father choked on a meatball. Though he thinks he has backed it up by pretending to be his father on the phone, he is busted when his parents show up at school. He has until 6:00 pm to turn in the paper, which must be in his own handwriting. If he doesn’t get it in on time, he’ll have to repeat the class in summer school.

He writes a story called “Big Fat Liar.” Racing to get it in on time, he collides with a car that turns out to contain an even bigger liar than he is, Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamattti). Jason gets into Wolf’s car and everything falls out of his backpack. He shoves it all back in, but when he gets to the school, the story is missing. Summer school is bad enough, but even worse is that no one believes that he really did write the story or that he got a ride from a Hollywood producer. He is literally the boy who cried (Marty) Wolf.

Summer comes, and summer school is miserable. At the movies, Jason sees a coming attraction for a Marty Wolf movie called….”Big Fat Liar.” Wolf has taken the story Jason left in the car and turned it into a major motion picture!

Jason sees this as his chance to prove to his parents that for once he really was telling the truth. When his parents go away for the weekend, Jason take his entire bank account and buys two tickets to Los Angeles so that he and Kaylee can find Wolf and make him tell Jason’s father the truth.

Jason and Kaylee scam their way into getting a limo ride from the airport and duck off the Universal Studios tour bus to find Wolf’s office. Then they scam their way into his office, but Wolf refuses to tell the truth. So Jason and Kaylee, along with a growing group of fellow Wolf-haters, set up a series of pranks designed to torture Wolf into admitting that Jason wrote the story for his new movie.

Muniz and Giamatti are deft comic actors, but the highlight of the movie is Bynes as Kaylee. Her two different but equally hilarious renditions of Hollywood secretaries are gems. Giamatti is so relentlessly selfish and egotistical that it gets a bit tedious, but he does do a wonderful little dance to “Hungry Like a (what else?) Wolf.”

Parents should know that, while the movie’s theme is the importance of telling the truth and being trustworthy, the message is a little mixed. In order to prove that he was telling the truth about finishing his story, Jason and Kaylee have to lie, steal, vandalize, and generally behave in an irresponsible – and illegal – manner, even by the standards of comic fantasy. And at the end, Jason’s parents are proud of him for proving that he was not lying when he said he had written his paper, never mentioning that perhaps two 14-year-olds should not have flown to California when they were supposed to be at home. One small bright spot worth mentioning is that all of Jason’s efforts are intended to show that he was telling the truth. His motive for pursuing Wolf is never getting any money or credit for his story. Another strength of the movie is its racially diverse cast.

Families who see this movie should talk about why people lie and how it feels not to be trusted. When someone is caught in a lie, how can he or she regain the trust of those who have been disappointed? Would you like to see the movie based on Jason’s story? What do you think it would be like?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Harriet the Spy. The Kid, and Snow Day.



Previous Posts

Remembering the Vietnam War: 10 Movies
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the War in Vietnam, here are ten of the best of the movie and documentary depictions of the war and its impact on history and culture in the United States. The best-known films about Vietnam include "Apocalypse Now," "Full Metal Jacket," "Platoon," "The Deer Hun

posted 8:00:34am Jul. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Lucy
I always enjoy Luc Besson's stylish car chases and shootouts. I like his use of locations, his strong female characters, and unexpected flashes of sentiment in the midst of mayhem.  While

posted 6:00:51pm Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

And So It Goes
A second marriage is, as Samuel Johnson famously said, "The triumph of hope over experience." And as lyricist Sammy Cahn wrote in the song Bing Crosby sang in "H

posted 6:00:13pm Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

The Memory Book -- This Saturday on the Hallmark Channel
A budding, young photographer stumbles upon an old photo album chronicling the ideal romance of a happy couple. Intrigued by their love and unable to find her own “true love,” she sets out to find the couple and figure out if true love really exists.  The film stars Meghan Ory (“Once Upon a T

posted 8:00:57am Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Michael Rossato-Bennett of "Alive Inside"
Michael Rossato-Bennett agreed to spend one day filming Dan Cohen's remarkable music therapy work with people struggling with dementia. He ended up spending three years there and the result is "Alive Inside," an extraordinary documentary about the power of music to reach the human spirit, even when

posted 3:58:01pm Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.