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Big Fat Liar
Review by Ross Anthony

Due to a scheduling mishap, I jumped into this film at least fifteen minutes after it began. My apologies to both the filmmakers and my readers, this cannot be a legitimate review. With that qualification, read on...

I liked it. Paul Giamatti, blue with orange hair: what part of painting an adult buffoon-blue isn't funny to a little kid? Hey, it's funny to me. Perhaps, I'm biased, I'm a fan of Giamatti. While the other critics scoffed at a little film he starred in called "Duets" - I adored it (mostly because of his talented buffoonery). Probably, even less noticed (because he was an ape), he provided the only humor and "fun" bits (aside from ol' Chuck's brilliant cameo) in the larger release "Planet of the Apes" (2001).

In "Big Fat Liar," Giamatti plays a slimy LA writer/director (Wolf) who swipes a story from a 14-year-old's English paper in order to create his newest film project. Jason (Muniz), whose lies have already earned him distrust, takes off to Hollywood in order to coerce Wolf into clarifying the true ownership of ideas. Wolf is not about to be challenged by anybody (let alone a teen); hence, Jason resorts to practical jokes, booby-traps, and slapstick in order to whittle Wolf down to a desperate broken man.

So there you have it, a kid harassing an adult until said adult cracks. Since Wolf's personality wins him an army of enemies (many familiar faces from TV's past), Jason finds plenty of allies.

Director Levy keeps a clipping pace, always with an eye for visual fun. One shot burned itself into my memory. Paul Giamatti flustered, exhausted and dusty, stands in the middle of the desert searching desperately for a mode of transportation ... and then the sound of propeller blades as a studio chopper drops into the frame behind him. Before turning to see it, he shows us the "fight" he still has left in his eyes. This is just a silly movie, but that was a great shot.

I suppose missing the beginning sequences could have been a blessing, but as it stands ... I left the theater wishing I hadn't missed them. Good Family fun, in the "Home Alone" vein.

  • Big Fat Liar. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG.
  • Starring Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), Paul Giamatti, Amanda, Bynes, Isaiah Washington.
  • Directed by Shawn Levy.
  • Screenplay by Dan Schneider. (Story by Dan Schneider, Brian Robbins).
  • Produced by Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins at (very obviously) Universal.

Copyright © 2002. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:19:03 PDT