Big Fat Liar

As children, actors have a limited life span, usually growing up less than gracefully into adults. One route many take is to milk their stardom for all it's worth by appearing in movies like Big Fat Liar. Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes are riding high on FOX's clever Malcolm in the Middle and Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show, but whether they can last as they age is an unknown at this point. One would wish they would choose better materials for their forays into the big screen though. Big Fat Liar is nothing more than an adolescent fantasy, where kids can do anything they set their mind to and humiliate adults at the same time. Like most children's movies, it holds some appeal for kids, and little appeal for adults.

Jason Shepherd (Muniz, My Dog Skip, Dr. Dolittle 2) is a pathological liar who lives in Michigan. He will lie his way out of anything, especially when it comes to homework. So when he loses his paper after a man in a limo runs him over, his teacher and parents don't believe him. Months later, he discovers that the man, Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti, Storytelling, Planet of the Apes) stole his story and is making it into Big Fat Liar, next year's blockbuster, he vows to seek out Wolf, both for revenge and redemption. Together with his friend Kaylee (Bynes), the duo set off for Hollywood and a weekend of careful plotting to get Wolf to call Jason's dad and admit he stole the script.

The bulk of the script by Dan Schneider (Good Burger) and Brian Robbins' script consist of Jason and Kaylee's various humiliations of Wolf, who still manages to truck through the day. Big Fat Liar is a small kid's dream. Director Shawn Levy (Jett Jackson: The Movie, Address Unknown) has children free of any parental supervision with an apparent endless supply of money. They can do whatever they want to whomever they want. Regardless of the quality of the movie, the fact that Jason and Kaylee can do this is appealing. Giamatti grunts and grimaces like he always does, which is great for small kids. But even they will become tired of the uninspired jokes. Muniz and Bynes do have some appeal, but one wonders if Jason can dream up such elaborate excuses, why doesn't he just write a paper? Well, maybe he will grow up to be like the students in Slackers.

The studio that released Big Fat Liar is Universal, and Coca-Cola is a sponsor. This is obvious because of the numerous on camera displays of the soda, as well as the placing of the film inside Universal Studios with numerous identifiable landmarks passing by in the backgrounds. It gets a little blatant even for a kids movie. Nevertheless, this is a movie for children, and the main character is constant liar. This is not good behavior, which means that Levy has a moral that pops up eventually. It's no spoiler to say that the moral is to always tell the truth. For Jason, it gets him in trouble. For Wolf, it means that small children will ruin his life. Oh well. It all feels a little stretched.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated PG for some language.

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