Big Fat Liar
I'm blue ba da be.... Marty (Giamatti) gets a shock
dir Shawn Levy
scr Dan Schneider
with Frankie Muniz, Amanda Bynes, Paul Giamatti, Donald Faison, Amanda Detmer, Lee Majors, Jaleel White, Sandra Oh, Michael Bryan French, Christine Tucci, Russell Hornsby, John Cho
release US 8.Feb.02; UK 28.Jun.02
02/US 1h27

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
cutting a big shot down to size A zany adventure in the vein of those 1970s Disney romps, this is a sublimely silly wish-fulfilment comedy. Jason (Muniz) is a cheeky 14-year-old in Michigan who always has a story to cover his latest misadventure, while his friend Kaylee (Bynes) covers for him. Then one day his homework is actually stolen by a Hollywood bigwig (Giamatti), and of course no one believes him. So when their parents are away for a weekend, Jason and Kaylee hop a flight to Los Angeles to force the producer to tell the truth, which he refuses to do, sparking a battle of wits in which he is, frankly, way overmatched.

For young teens, this is the kind of movie that dreams are made of--kids get the upper hand by virtually taking over a movie studio, complete with costumes, effects and stunt men (Majors playing on his Fall Guy persona). Not to mention full-on (and mostly harmless) humiliation! Muniz and Bynes have more than enough energy to keep the film floating, while the gifted Giamatti, Faison and Detmer ham it up suitably. While anyone who remembers Urkel (shudder!) will enjoy White's attempts to shake the stereotype. No, there's not a split second of this film that is remotely believable; first-time director Levy gets the action right but tries far too hard for wacky slapstick and oh-so-cute montage. And no movie studio on earth is this busy; but it certainly makes things colourful and relentlessly kinetic. There are also one or two scenes that are actually funny, which is a much higher average than most American comedies at the moment. And grown-ups can while away the time playing spot-the-well-known-prop in the studio warehouse scenes.* Not good, but at least enjoyably juvenile.
themes, mayhem cert PG 24.Apr.02
* For the record, I spotted the car from Back to the Future, various props from E.T., Jurassic Park and The Grinch, the Psycho house and the entire set from The Scorpion King. Did you see anything else?

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall