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:: Big Fat Liar

There has rightly been some criticism levelled at the low-class level of Hollywood live action teen films where we see sameness in the plot, the characters, insufficient laughs, and politically correct messages. “Big Fat Liar” is actually quite good as far as family entertainment is concerned. It has energy and, although not brilliant as far as filmmaking goes, still comes across as innocent and harmless fun.

Frankie Muniz as Jason Shepherd heads the film. He is a fourteen-year-old, who is notorious for telling lies, be it at home or at school, in seeking excuses. Such is the frequency of his fibs, very few people will listen to him. Even his parents don’t listen any longer. He faces the prospect of doing summer school if he doesn’t write a particular English paper. He proceeds to write a story about being a liar and rushes off to get it to the teacher on time.

While Jason is taking the paper to the teacher, his bicycle collides with the limousine of Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti) who, in order to avoid a lawsuit, gives the kid a lift. Unfortunately, Jason leaves the paper in the car and is then told he must attend summer school as a result of not doing the paper. However, Big Fat Liar – the title of his paper – lives on because Wolf uses it as the script for his next Hollywood film. A couple of months later, Jason and his friend Kaylee (Amanda Bynes) see the trailer at the movies.

Jason and Kaylee set out for Hollywood. Jason simply wants Wolf to acknowledge that he got the story from him, so that he can regain his parents’ trust. The film then becomes a progression of elaborate slapstick stunts, as the kids plot a variety of humiliations for the crooked producer who won’t admit the truth. The battle against Wolf is made easier by the number of enemies he has accumulated, including an ageing stunt man (Lee Majors), an unhappy limo driver (Donald Faison), and Wolf’s much-abused assistant (Amanda Detmer).

Paul Giamatti does his best to elevate “Big Fat Liar” to a worthwhile standard because his goofy spots and comedic class sustain the momentum. When he doesn’t appear, the film loses some steam. While some moments look improbable (the kids fly across the country to Hollywood on the weekend without anyone knowing – how did they pay for it, etc), the young actors put in an adequate performance as a good male/female team. There is good pace and there aren’t silly sub-plots. It’s a good film for teenagers and the inside jokes about the film industry are worthy aspects.