Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, Amanda Bynes.
Directed by Shawn Levy.
Running Time: 88 mins
Rated: G
The Big Fat Liar is Jason Shepherd (Muniz). Jason lies to his parents, his teachers and himself. When he fails his English exam he has to do a catch-up essay. He writes about what he knows best: lying. On the way to deliver this paper he is run over by Marty Wolf (Giamatti), a Hollywood producer looking for his next-big-thing. Jason accidentally leaves his essay behind in Wolf's limousine. Marty steals it, makes a movie of it, and hits the big time. No one believes that Jason wrote the original story so he heads to LA with his best friend Kaylee (Bynes) to prove the truthfulness of his claim.

This Pinocchio tale could have been much more pleasing if Shawn Levy allowed the characters to be more subtle. The supporting cast, especially, are caricatures, overdrawn and dull. The script is fairly obvious and in the absence of any character development this film goes from one slapstick set-up to the next.

Big Fat Liar has three things going for it. The editing is first-rate which gives energy and dynamism to some mediocre scenes. Christophe Beck's musical score is great, if a little large for the pictures that it accompanies.

The third win for Big Fat Liar is the message it delivers. Lying as a child or a teenager is bad in itself, but what's worse is that when we get away with it we learn that our lying get us out of all sorts of predicaments, at least in the short term. Enron, WorldCom and Arthur Andersen show the terrible fall-out when adults turn lying into a career.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

Richard Leonard SJ

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