Fletcher Reede, Attorney At Lie
- Like many of you, I grew up with movies; and one such movie is the hysterical 1997 comedy Liar Liar starring Jim Carrey. This film is one that I have seen an uncountable amount of times and yet it never fails to make me laugh out loud during each viewing.
Liar Liar looks and feels like a family friendly film at first but soon one finds that the bouncy tone and bubbly music are all part of the joke. The opening scenes of the film plop us dead-center inside happy times suburbia - but then we meet Fletcher Reede.
Jim Carrey stars as Fletcher, a California state defense lawyer who owes his entire career to Adam and Eve for giving him the ability to sin. Fletcher is a smart and witty lawyer - but lying is his true talent. A scumbag committed another dastardly crime? No problem! Criminals can get away scot-free when Fletcher Reede explains to the judge and jury what really happened, whether his version of the story is true or not (....usually not).
But Fletcher's lying lifestyle does not end with the *smack* of the judge's gavel nor is it limited to the confines of the courtroom - it extends into his personal life as well. Fletcher's inability to keep promises has specifically hurt his son Max; and when Fletcher pulls yet another painful no-show at Max's birthday party, Max wishes that Fletcher cannot tell a lie for just one day. Max's wish comes true! The second that Max blows out the candles on his birthday cake, Fletcher cannot tell a lie for 24 hours. This oddity could not have come at a worse time however, as Fletcher has an important case that requires some top-notch lying and his ex-wife Audrey is threatening to take Max away with her to Boston.
When looking for Jim Carrey's finest performance to date, many will look to his deep portrayal of the hurt Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), others might look to his sensitive showing in The Truman Show (1998), and others still might prefer Carrey's imitation of Andy Kaufman in Man On The Moon (1999). For me however, Jim Carrey has never been better than he is as Fletcher Reede in Liar Liar. While reaching the peak of his trademark physical comedy here in Liar Liar, Carrey also includes many subtle gems in his expressive comedic performance all the while managing to convey a lot of humanity in a father character who loves his son. Carrey's performance as Fletcher Reede is the perfect mix of what makes Carrey a great actor - absolutely hilarious comedic acting with some moving dramatic touches.
Of course, Jim Carrey can only do so much; if a script is awful, the film will be awful even though Carrey might still be watchable. However, Liar Liar entertains on all levels - and proves to be highly re-watchable. Carrey is likable, animated, and hilarious - but he is also supported well. Maura Tierney is fun to watch as Audrey, Justin Cooper is a ham as Max, Cary Elwes plays a hilarious "Magoo" as Audrey's boyfriend Jerry, Jennifer Tilly plays a funny loose moron, Amanda Donohoe makes a great comedic femme fatale, Anne Haney adds a lot to the film as Fletcher's secretary Greta, and Jason Bernard is dryly hilarious as Judge Marshall Stevens. Carrey is responsible for much of the film's humor and character but the script is also great and shares the responsibility of making the film funny and entertaining. The lines themselves are hilarious and scenarios give Carrey plenty of room to improvise and make the film his own, but you also really care about the characters in Liar Liar.
"And the truth shall set you free!"
Jim Carrey screams that line with an enthusiastic yet exhausted sense of satisfaction - and it is a line that sums up this hilarious comedy. Lying hurts. It hurts those around us and, as everything that happens to Fletcher in the film clearly shows, lying hurts the liar worst of all. Through all of the film's many strengths, in which Jim Carrey easily stands out the most, Liar Liar tells its moral tale while entertaining and making us laugh until it hurts.
CBC Rating: 9/10