Big Fat Liar

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Big Fat Liar Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Really likeable family comedy set in cutthroat Hollywood.
  • PG
  • 2002
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 32 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes, eventually, the importance of telling the truth over lying, and shows how lying on a regular basis violates the trust between kids and parents, besides raising doubts even when "big fat liars" tell the truth.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two main characters lie to try to fool their teacher, then later use their "gifts" for lying to try and take down the Hollywood studio exec who lied about where he got the inspiration for his latest hit movie. Parents are concerned about the lying, but also conveniently leave town for a week when the story requires it. Lots of character stereotypes: dumb jock, blind/deaf/senile grandmother, pompous/shouty Hollywood studio exec.

 

Violence

A character is knocked off his skateboard by a group of bullies, who also push and shove him before stealing the skateboard. While not shown, a character is kicked in the groin, replete with sound effects to drive the point home. A character dressed as a clown is shown being knocked over by a group of young kids at a birthday party; all of whom take turns jumping, tackling, and leaping on top of the clown.

 

 

Sex
Language

Name-calling: "Up yours," "retardo," "You suck." A character shouts from off-camera that a "dookie" has clogged the toilet.

 

Consumerism

Coca-Cola cans and a vending machine are prominently featured.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult social drinking, and an adult character lights a cigar, but instead of smoking it, uses it to burn some papers.

 

 

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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFunChoiceFriday May 15, 2019

Funny movie for older children

It's a great storyline about the consequences of lying. A few mild language incidents not appropriate for smaller children. Cigar smoking. "Hell... Continue reading
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byEric H. October 3, 2018

Funny family film

I think any family would enjoy this movie. The scenes were hilarious and the violence isn’t too bad. The ending scene does involve a dad instructing his son to... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old May 7, 2020
Kid, 12 years old April 7, 2020

I really loved it

Really funny... basically good for all ages. I watched it with my 2 year old nephew and he loves the movie. He is now 3 and asks to watch it every time he comes... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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