There's an old episode of the sitcom 'Three's Company' in which Jack Tripper
makes a promise to himself that he will tell the truth no matter what the
consequences. There is also a movie from 1977 entitled 'Freaky Friday' in
which a mother and daughter make a wish that they could be each other for a
day and it comes true as they switch personalities accordingly.
In 'Liar, Liar' slapstick funny face man Jim Carrey plays an unethical
attorney who is also a pathological fibber and is constantly letting down his
loved ones including his five year old son. The boy makes a wish on his
fifth birthday that his dad will not lie for a day and it works and the
picture then moves into a phase of immature pratfalls and physical comedy
that Carrey is well known for and he often over does it. Most of the laughs
I heard while attending a matinee of this movie came from children under the
age of ten and Carrey has fallen flat on his face again in the opinion of
this reviewer with his third critical misfire in a row after 'The Cable Guy'
(1996) and 'Ace Ventura - When Nature Calls' (1995). Carrey's last mildly
entertaining role came in 1995 with 'Batman Forever' in which he played the
Riddler and while Carrey now enjoys laughing all the way to the bank at the
tune of twenty million dollars per film, he is no Robin Williams or Billy
Crystal. These two men are performers of original and controlled comedy
(although Williams has sometimes overdone it) with far greater results as
they aim for genuine laughs instead of cheap ones.
There are a couple of good belly laughs in 'Liar, Liar' but that doesn't
constitute and entire film and Carrey's improvisational style of comedy in
which he often borrows from others makes him the director of the film at
heart instead of the man given credit (Tom Shadyac). Shadyac is the man who
directed Carrey in 'Ace Ventura - Pet Detective' (1994) and I suspect Shadyac
is an easy director to control as Eddie Murphy pretty much had his way on
'The Nutty Professor' from last year which Shadyac also directed.
If Jim Carrey can listen to a director and perhaps try his hand at drama then
his career would have much more credibility which would lead to acceptance
among those over the age of ten of what a fine comedian and actor he has the
potential of being. Power trips can be fatal in an industry where you're
only as good as your last hit and while 'The Cable Guy' was a box office
disappointment, 'Liar, Liar' appears to have a chance but Carrey's act is
wearing mighty thin.
Copyright © 1997 Walter Frith