Big Fat Liar
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (31st October 2015).
The Film

Jason Shepherd (Frankie Muniz, star of TV’s Malcolm in the Middle) is fourteen years old and a compulsive liar. He lies to anyone and everyone. He lies to his Mother that he has eaten his breakfast, he lies to his Father about finishing his homework, and he lies to his English teacher about why he did not finish his homework. Found out in these lies Jason gets one last chance to finish his English assignment or be consigned to summer school where he will have to re-take his English lessons all over again. Jason finally knuckles down and does complete a three thousand word story and in a dash across town to deliver but a six PM deadline he is hit by a limousine which is carrying the World famous movie producer Marty Wolfe (Paul Giametti). Jason uses the accident to get Wolfe to give him a ride across town to deliver his story. Whilst getting into the car Jason spills the contents of his rucksack over the floor and when he gets out of the car he leaves behind his story, which is entitled ‘Big Fat Liar’. Wolfe finds the story on the car floor. Jason tries to convince his teacher and his parents about the accident and that he must have left his story in the car but because of his past behaviour no one believes him. Flash forward a few months and whilst at the cinema, after a days hard work at summer school, Jason sees a trailer for a movie called ‘Big Fat Liar’. A film produced by Marty Wolfe. Jason is infuriated and plans for retribution. Luckily his parents are due to go away for the weekend and Jason uses this opportunity and enlists the aide of his friend Kaylee (Amanda Bynes). Together they travel to Los Angeles. In the airport lobby they meet a chauffer called Frank Jackson (Donald Faison, Scrubs). Jason and Kaylee pretend to be members of a fur importer in order to get Frank to drive them to Universal Studios where Marty Wolfe has his offices. Jason and Kaylee then use the back lot tour to gain access behind the scenes and confront Wolfe. All Jason wants is for Wolfe to call his Dad and admit that Jason did do his homework. Wolfe initially agrees but then sets fire to the original story and gets Jason thrown out of his office. Jason vows not to give up and he and Kaylee find a store room on the Universal back and start to plan their revenge.

It’s not difficult to see that ‘Big Fat Liar’ is the story of ‘The Boy That Cried Wolf’, even down to the evil film producers surname. The film starts off like a young Ferris Bueller film with Jason wisecracking with some bullies and being proud of the way he can manipulate the adults around him with his elaborate lies. However, as the original fable goes, Jason soon learns that lying is not what responsible people do as it backfires on him and he loses the respect of his Father. Jason’s sole motivation throughout the film is not to get recognition for his story, or get a cut of the profits but to regain the respect of his parents. It’s a relatively gentle film with no swearing or bad language. The bad Marty Wolfe is overplayed to the degree of a pantomime villain. His bad behaviour throughout the film towards other people is how, ultimately, he gets his comeuppance. The film is aimed at children from 8 years to old to, I would guess, 14 and it’s a reasonably decent way of teaching children that lying is bad and treating those around you with contempt is counterproductive as it will come back and bite you on the arse eventually. The cast is pretty decent, with lots of faces from television shows that people will recognise. Lee Majors even gets a fair sized cameo. For adults there are some interesting moments. The time the two leads spend on the Universal back lot is fun if only to spot some of the props from other Universal films. Those of you who are eagle eyed will spot a velociraptor from ‘Jurassic Park’ Jim Carrey’s suit from ‘The Grinch’ and the time travelling Delorean from ‘Back to the Future’ to name but a few. The pop soundtrack is used well too with Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ and ‘Right Here, Right Now’ being the highlights.

Video

For a film only 13 years old the picture quality on the disc is mildly disappointing. Interlacing problems and blurring are all too common throughout the film especially during scenes of fast motion. The film is presented in 1.85:1 and is anamorphic. Apart from the aforementioned problems the colours are bright and the film is set almost completely in the sunshine of California and looks and feels warm.

Audio

Viewers are presented to with two choices. The first is a DTS 5.1 mix which performs well especially during the scenes featuring helicopters, cars and the music soundtrack. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix is, as expected, not as aggressive but perfectly acceptable. There are English subtitles available.

Extras

Spotlight on Location (11:58) - Presented in 4:3. The video quality is of a lower standard than the feature presentation as it originally premiered on television in the United States. This short documentary features interviews with the cast and crew about the making of the movie and what they hoped to achieve with the film. There are subtitles available with this extra.

Feature Commentaries - There are two commentaries. The first is with Director Shawn Levy and Jonathan Brown, the cinematographer. The second is with the film’s star Frankie Muniz. The first commentary is more of technical commentary with both members of the crew discussing set ups, lighting etc... The second is Frankie on his own and there are more gaps during the commentary but Frankie talks candidly about his co-stars and the shooting of the film and it’s clear from his commentary that he had a lot of fun in making the movie. There are subtitles available on both commentaries.

Deleted Scenes (14:42) - A series of deleted scenes and extended scenes that are already in the film. The scenes run concurrently and are not broken up into sections. They are presented in a non anamorphic state and the picture quality is significantly lower than the feature presentation with significant amounts of interlacing. Subtitles are included for this extra.

Trivia Challenge - This is a series of text questions based on the props seen in the background during the scenes in the Universal back lot. Answer the questions about the props correctly for some bonus blooper scenes that run for 47 seconds.

Universal Studios Back Lot - This extra consists of a map of the back lot with some highlighted places on the map. When you click on the map it takes you to the scene that features that place on the back lot. So clicking on the ‘Psycho House’ shows you a short clip where the Psycho house features in the back ground.

Are You A Big Fat Liar? - This is a text quiz of ten questions which will determine if you are a big fat liar!

Theatrical Trailer (2:02) - Presented in non anamorphic 1.85:1. Again, this feature has some interlacing problems but is presented with subtitles.

Overall

A relatively enjoyable film which will be best suited to the younger members of the family. It’s completely inoffensive with a decent cast and it’s quite slickly produced. At the very least it will keep the kids quiet for 90 minutes and with no questionable content. For such a minor film Fabulous Films have to be commended for the amount of extras they have included on the disc.

The Film: C Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: B+ Overall: C+

 


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