A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Big Fat Liar is a funny take on ruthlessness in Hollywood full of puerile pratfall humor and name-calling. There are instances of bullying throughout the film -- especially at the beginning -- and the character stereotypes (dumb jock, senile grandmother) are plentiful. While the madcap antics of Frankie Muniz, Amanda Bynes and Paul Giamatti will appeal to kids and grown-ups, lessons on the importance of being honest are found amid all the silliness.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After getting caught in one of his many elaborate lies, eighth-grader Jason (Frankie Muniz) is given a tight deadline to turn in his homework, or go to summer school. He writes a story called "Big Fat Liar," but as he races to get it in on time, he collides with a car driven by an even bigger liar, Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamattti). In a mix up, Jason loses his paper in Wolf's car, and no one believes that he really did write the story. Summer comes, and so does Marty Wolf's movie called "Big Fat Liar." Jason sets out to prove to his parents that he really was telling the truth. He spends his savings to get to Los Angeles with his friend Kaylee (Amanda Bynes). The kids scam their way into Wolf's 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.
Is it any good?
Muniz and Giamatti are deft comic actors in BIG FAT LIAR, 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."
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can 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?
Do you think Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes have made a successful transition to movies after being stars of their own TV shows?
- In theaters: February 8, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: September 24, 2002
- Cast: Amanda Bynes, Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti
- Director: Shawn Levy
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: vulgar language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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