Big Fat Liar

Starring:
Frankie Muniz as Jason Shepherd
Paul Giamatti as Marty Wolf
Amanda Bynes as Kaylee
Amanda Detmer as Monty Kirkham
Donald Adeosun Faison as Frank Jackson/Kenny Trooper
Sandra Oh as Mrs. Caldwell
Russell Hornsby as Marcus Duncan
Michael Bryan French as Harry Shepherd
Christine Tucci as Carol Shepherd
Lee Majors as Vince
Sean O’Bryan as Leo
Jaleel White as Himself

Special Features:
Amanda Bynes Guided Menus
Outrageous Deleted Scenes
Spyro Video Game Extras
Interactive Universal Studios Backlot Adventure
Are You A Big Fat Liar? Game
Trivia Challenge
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
Feature Commentaries With Actor Frankie Muniz and Director Shawn Levy

Other Info:
English, French, and Spanish Languages
1.33:1 Full Frame
Running Time: 1 Hr. 28 Mins.
Dolby Digital
DTS
5.1 Surround
Captions Subtitles

Synopsis:
Jason Shepherd is a habitual liar. Any time he needs something, he simply lies to his teachers and parents to get it. He often uses his friend Kaylee as an accomplice. However, one day Jason’s reputation catches up with him. Through a series of coincidences, a slimy Hollywood producer, Marty Wolf, ends up in possession of a story Jason writes as a homework assignment entitled “Big Fat Liar”. Marty proceeds to turn the paper into a big summer film. When Jason cries foul (or Wolf, so to speak), nobody believes him. Not even his parents believe him. Realizing that nobody trusts him anymore, Jason decides he must win his reputation back. He and Kaylee travel to Hollywood to make Marty admit he stole the story. However, Marty is not so willing to admit his wrongdoing, so the kids begin a campaign of terror to get him to give in.

“Big Fat Liar” is rated PG for some language.

The Movie:
I hadn’t seen this movie in the theaters, so I didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately, it wasn’t the painful experience that most kids movies are. This one is more or less tolerable. While infinitely more appealing to kids than adults, it still does have a few clever moments. Cameos by Lee Majors, that Urkel kid Jaleel White, and more are fun little additions. Some of the movie parodies, like a cop and chicken buddy flick, are humorous. This movie also was filmed on the Universal Studios backlot and it shows. The kids run through sets from Psycho, The Scorpion King, and more. You see props from Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Grinch, and others. While it makes the film seem like a 90 minute commercial for the studio attraction, it’s still kind of fun to spot what all you can recognize from the movies.

Fans of Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes will get a real kick out of this film. Both are enjoyable in their roles. I hadn’t seen Bynes much before beyond Nickelodeon commercials, but she really shines in this movie. Her impersonations are funny and keep things moving. Paul Giamatti particularly steals the show as the despicable Marty Wolf. Like the burglars in Home Alone, you enjoy seeing him get one upped by the kids in prank after prank.

Beyond the good actors and gimmick cameos, this movie doesn’t have much else going for it. The lessons against lying are good ones, but seeing as how the kid lies repeatedly to prove he was telling the truth, that kind of nullifies the redeeming message of the movie. It really won’t be memorable past your initial viewing. Kids, however, will probably get a bigger kick out of it than any adults.

Widescreen buffs should know that “Big Fat Liar” is only coming out in a full frame version.

The Extras:
The advertisements for this DVD make it look like it is jam-packed with extras, but it’s really not. You get your standard “Making of” featurette and a few deleted scenes. Beyond that, there’s not much else of interest. Most of the deleted scenes are unremarkable except for one. The scene features Marty Wolf in his set trailer trying to woo a drop dead gorgeous extra from the shoot. As he tries to lay the moves on her, he’s eating fried chicken. His production assistant interrupts him with bad news, though. The caterer has fried up the chicken star of the movie. Marty then realizes that he’s been eating the star of the movie. Tacky? Yes. Gross? Yes. But it was still pretty funny. Also, after viewing the deleted scenes, you realize that there are still clues of their existence left in the final version of the film. For example, the movie hypes up the fact that the security guard wants revenge, but he’s never seen again. The deleted scenes show he has a lot more to do with the plot against Marty Wolf. The president of the studio mentions that Wolf has repeatedly missed meetings, but we never see them in the movie. These scenes show those previous meetings. In the end, this DVD extra helps make parts of the story clearer.

Other features on the disc simply reinforce the fact that this is partly a long commercial for Universal Studios. The trivia feature asks a bunch of questions about the props seen in the background in “Big Fat Liar”. If you need a hint where one came from, you push a button and it shows a scene from that Universal movie. Scenes come from E.T., Back to the Future, The Mummy, and more. The other feature entitled “Interactive Universal Studios Backlot Adventure” is nothing more than a map showing the studio layout. As you select different areas of the park, you see which scene of “Big Fat Liar” was filmed there. Not terribly impressive, but there you go. If you’re planning a vacation there, this may come in handy.

Other features include exclusive cheat codes for the Spyro video game. What this has to do with “Big Fat Liar,” I have no idea. The menus actually feature co-star Amanda Bynes standing next to the selections making comments and prompting you to choose something. While better than your standard DVD menu, she never does anything particularly amusing.

The Bottom Line:
“Big Fat Liar” is a good addition to a kid’s DVD collection. It’s funny and entertaining for children. Adults may be mildly amused by it.

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