A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Liar Liar is a 1997 comedy starring Jim Carrey as an attorney who is both dishonest at work and at home and is taught a lesson when his son wishes that he be forced to tell the truth for one whole day. This film contains a scene in which a character beats himself up very badly. There is also a seduction scene, though without any nudity or actual sex. During a courtroom scene, a tape recording presented as evidence plays a man and a woman having loud and passionate sex. There is frequent profanity, including "s--t," and a series of euphemisms for sex. In an elevator, Fletcher makes suggestive comments about a woman's large breasts. At work, a coworker asks, "How's it hangin'?," and Fletcher says, "Short, shriveled, and a little to the left." Expect reckless driving in one scene. While Fletcher is in jail, his secretary makes a joke about prison molestation.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jim Carrey is a funny guy, and in LIAR LIAR he gives a funny performance as Fletcher Reede, a lawyer who gets through life by telling many lies. Some of them are little white lies, such as his compliments to his not-so-attractive coworkers on their appearance. Some are bigger, such as the ones he tells to get his petty criminal clients out of trouble. But the worst lies he tells are to his son Max, whom he's neglecting for work. Max's birthday wish is that his father will be rendered incapable of lying for one day, and the wish comes true. Fletcher is completely unable to lie, throwing his professional and personal lives into utter chaos.
Is it any good?
The moral is pretty easy to grasp -- it's better to tell the truth than to lie -- but in the rush to get to the happy ending, the film avoids the more complex issues involved. For example, when Fletcher tells his coworkers what he really thinks of them, he insults and hurts them, and his adoring secretary walks out on him (though later she walks back -- this is a comedy, after all). But that gets swept aside as Fletcher tries to stop his ex-wife from moving to Boston with her new boyfriend and Max.
In fact, the whole premise boils down to Fletcher telling Max he loves him, something we've never really doubted. Basically, this is a vehicle for Carrey, and he runs with it, doing his usual impressive rubber-bodied antics and clearly improvising quite a bit of the comedy. It's entertaining but ultimately rather hollow.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about lying and how it affects people. When Fletcher was telling lies, he got into a certain kind of trouble, but when he had to tell the truth, he found trouble of a different sort. Is it ever OK to lie?
Besides Liar Liar, what are some other examples of movies in which the plot centers on the style or persona of a famous actor? Why do you think movies like these -- called "star vehicles" -- get made?
What are some other examples of movies in which physical humor is employed? What do you think is the appeal of this type of humor?
- In theaters: March 21, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: December 31, 1999
- Cast: Jim Carrey, Justin Cooper, Maura Tierney
- Director: Tom Shadyac
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: strong language and sexual situations
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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