Liar Liar
Universal // PG-13 // $29.98 // June 12, 2007
Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted July 13, 2007
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
When you need gratuitous, gut-wrenching laughter, it's hard not to look towards Jim Carrey's slapstick samples of bliss. It doesn't matter if you need a shade darker humor a la Me, Myself, or Irene, or the brightest possible chuckles spurting forth from the flamboyant The Mask, Carrey can deliver something resonant in grand form.

It's within Carrey's most regular roles, however, that I find his humor to be spot on and most pleasant. Before pairing with Tom Shadyac for a personal favorite of mine, Bruce Almighty, the two hooked up for their second on-screen collaboration (following Ace Ventura) and cranked out Liar Liar. Sure, the entirety of Liar Liar takes a bit long to get rolling with the laughs and exists purely as a Carrey vehicle, but from the second it starts until the end of its short time, you'll have a difficult time shaking a grin from your face.


The Film:

When asked what his father, Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) does for a living, Max replies with a shrug and a comfortably blunt answer - "Liar". In fact, Fletcher is a successful, erratic, truth embellishing lawyer for a major firm downtown. He's knocking down cases and climbing up the rungs in swift fashion towards a highly coveted partnership title. To so do, Fletcher sacrificed a relationship with his wife (Maura Tierney) and continuously disappoints his son Max (Justin Cooper) with broken promises. Max decided to take matters into his own hands after Fletcher snaps the last straw. With birthday candles dancing atop his birthday cake, Max silently wishes for his father to be unable to lie for one whole day.

Max couldn't pick a worse, or better, time. With the partnership looming over his head and a completely dishonest case underneath the striking iron, Fletcher loses his capability to fudge the facts. No matter how hard he tries, nothing but the god-honest truth escapes his lips. Internal dialogue abound from such a fast-talking and active minded professional, the floodgates crumble from within his thoughts about, oh, everything from his feelings on his colleagues to his sexual encounters. Needless to say, Fletcher's in a world of trouble, especially once he steps into the courtroom to aid a dishonest, money-grubbing divorcee (Jennifer Tilly).

Liar Liar's meager plot takes a little time to get into without very many laughs wiggling out from your sense of humor. Carrey does a decent job of overshooting and caricaturizing the typical scumbag lawyer waltzing around his firm, while Tierney and Cooper work well as the divorced mother and adoring, heartbroken son. Like a gleaming snowball rolling down an icy hill, Liar Liar shows the potential early on for strength, but still suffers from a case of foot tapping as the introduction drags on. Since Carrey's humor is the star attraction, it takes an ironclad premise to keep us from begging the star of the show to get on with it. Though the idea behind Liar Liar offers a lot to like, it struggles to hold up the foreboding talent it supports.

Once the candles are blown, however, the crazy momentum instantly mounts into quite an avalanche. Bellyaching should probably ensue after the first utterances of truth escape Fletcher's lips. Of course, it's not purely what Fletcher says that's the punchline. Most of the effectiveness comes from Carrey, also known as Rubberface, contorting himself, his voice, and his overall demeanor into absurdities from our quaking imaginations. This flick doesn't even seem fully cohesive as a movie, but more of a brilliantly filmed stand-up routine. And there isn't a darn thing wrong with that. His bouncing off the walls of bathrooms, law offices, and the courtroom itself transforms Liar Liar's stage into a hilarious terrarium for a humor-crazed beast. It's superficial, absurd humor revolving around the overplayed fallacy of telling the truth, but boy will it get the laughs rolling.

What impresses me most is director Shadyac's capacity to know when enough is enough. Around the time when the audience has been slammed around to the right level from Carrey's antics, Liar Liar gracefully comes to a saccharine landing. Instead of sticking around too long, this little slice of comedic delight winds down in formulaic fashion with a grin left on your face once the 80 minute time starts to close. You're left with that feeling of caring lightly about the story, but even more about the comedic delivery alone that was well worth the investment. It's a date in court you'll actually want to revisit.


The HD-DVD:

Liar Liar is presented from Universal in the typically maroon translucent HD-DVD case with a few promo materials inside. Unlike the previous Collector's Edition, this disc sports very nice, albeit replicative, disc art.

The Video:

Encoded with a VC-1 1080p transfer of its 1.85:1 image, Liar Liar sheds some much needed light on the decent previous standard definition transfer. Now, the hi-definition transfer isn't quite a slice of perfection. There's still a bit of grain that's visible in some instances. However, when directly compared to the Collector's Edition disc regarding color replication and detail, this HD transfer is a very sizeable step-up. And, like mentioned above, it's a more radiant transfer than the standard release. Some of the same imperfections squirm into this presentation, but the clarity of minor elements, skin tones, and a thoroughly enhanced range of depth makes this a winner. The extensive detail regarding small points like Carrey's business suit and Tilly's hair and clothing make this disc pop to a much grander extent. This isn't reference quality and nothing to write home about, but Liar Liar looks quite good.

The Audio:

Here, however, is where Liar Liar earns the upgrade admission with its Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 aural presentation. Now, once again, this isn't something akin to reference quality material, but we're working with a direct comparison to the previous disc. Let's get the negative out of the way first. Liar Liar sounds very bright. The pitch is a bit higher than on the previous disc. It screeches to the plateaus in higher fidelity a little more than I'd like - not in a distorting manner, just a little more "metallic". However, though there's that minor issue, everything sounds so much cleaner and audible than the Collector's Edition. The surround track doesn't provide very much in the means of surround channel activity, but the punch from the remote sound effects and music came across in a very strong fashion. Plus, all the vocals rang a bit truer than the previous release. This is a strong improvement for this flick. Subtitles are available in English SDH and French, while a French 5.1+ track is also available.

The Extras:

Get ready for a severe case of déjà vu with a very minor hint of memory loss.

In comparison with the Liar Liar standard definition DVD, just about everything of quality is ported over to this HD-DVD, with only a few minor omissions, including:

- Photo Gallery
- Cast Bios
- Production Notes
- Universal Web Links


Now, here's what comes ported over on this disc (all in full frame and standard definition):

- Commentary from Tom Shadyac -
The exact same commentary. Shadyac lends very unique and appealing insight into the crafting of Liar, Liar, from the casting of Tilly to the grandness of Carrey's improvisations. It's great to hear about the open-endedness of the script.

- Bridging the Comedy Chasm -
A light-hearted, comedic Making Of featurette that does a lot of standard glorification for Carrey and Shadyac for roughly 15-16 minutes. It's entertaining with some mild insight, but nothing more than you're likely to hear from the director's commentary.

- Deleted Scene -
With Jim Carrey in top form, this is actually a very, very clever courtroom scene. It makes Fletcher Reede out to be even more of a scumbag than he ends up being, but the timing and manipulation of the scenario is very well done.

- Outtakes -
Not including the hilarious outtakes at the tail end of the film itself, these outtakes seem to be the pieces not needed for the ending. Though humorous, don't expect the same side-ripping bits at the conclusion of the movie.

- Theatrical Trailer -
Always dangerous ground with comedies, this trailer is a bit spoilerish and advised to be watched after the film.

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Final Thoughts:

Carrey's decade of slapstick brilliance has lent us as film lovers many spans between 80 - 120 minutes of vacant, blunt laughter that's desperately needed on occasions. Liar Liar strips away his crazy hair (well, most of it) and the green make-up to display a more grounded, but still overzealous and amusing, person from this comedic magician. When combined with a plot slightly stronger than a cracker and mediocre, serviceable support across the board, Liar Liar serves up Jim Carrey in a forum tailor-made for his showcased antics. Those who grasp onto that awkward Collector's Edition disc (you know, the one that's widescreen though it actually has Full Frame printed on the disc) can feel quite comfortable upgrading their disc for greatly improved audio and video quality. And for those of you who haven't given Liar Liar a look as of yet, this is a comedic, sycophantic film that comes equipped with a disc equally as revered as the flick itself. Recommended.


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