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Universal Pictures
Official Site
Director: Shawn Levy
Producers: Marie Cantin, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin
Written by: Dan Schneider, Brian Robbins
Cast: Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, Amanda Bynes, Amanda Detmer, Lindsay Tryctha, Lee Majors, Donald Faison, Josh Rusin

Rating: out of 5

BIG FAT LIAR was better than I expected it to be for the simple reason that it actually made me laugh a few times, off-color jokes aside. There’s nothing deep or moving about this film, but it makes the point that telling the truth is all it’s cracked up to be. And since BIG FAT LIAR is intended for a younger audience, the message is basically an important one that is delivered humorously, which will entertain kids. It did, after all, amuse me.

“Malcolm in the Middle” star Muniz plays Jason, who writes the story “Big Fat Liar” for his eighth grade English class. Jason has plenty of material to work with considering that his favorite pastime is not telling the truth. Unfortunately, his story is stolen by movie producer Marty Wolf (Giamatti), who then takes credit for it and turns it into the next big movie. Of course, no one believes that Jason wrote the story; why would they? His parents no longer trust him, so to regain their trust he and his friend Kaylee (Bynes) head to Los Angeles to find Marty and make him admit he stole Jason’s idea.

The pair ends up in Marty’s L.A. office to drag the truth out of him, to no avail. Marty is mean (to his assistant, actors, everyone) and Jason and Kaylee want to teach him a lesson. Thus begin the pranks—for starters, blue dye in Marty’s swimming pool and orange dye in his shampoo—which don’t make for a very happy Marty. But the joke eventually turns out to be on Marty when his assistant, Monty (Detmer) decides she’s had enough of Marty and wants revenge. She gathers Marty’s disgruntled employees and they devise a plot that ends Marty’s career and finally makes Jason look good.

The problem with this film is that everything is black or white—there’s no room for gray areas. And it’s ironic that Jason exposes the truth about Marty (and himself) by lying his way to, and through, Los Angeles. That’s fine for comedic purposes, but I think that it also waters down the message about telling the truth versus lying that this movie is attempting to send. Despite its shortcomings, the plot is far less offensive and the acting is better than most movies about 14-year-olds. After a host of films like SCARY MOVIE and ORANGE COUNTY, there’s definitely something to be said for that.

—Sarah Andrews

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