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LIAR, LIAR (COLLECTOR'S EDITION)

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Jennifer Tilly, Swoosie Kurtz, Cary Elwes
Director:  Tom Shadyac
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Widescreen 1.85:1, Anamorphic Transfer
Studio:  Universal
Features:  See Review
Length:  87 Minutes
Release Date:  October 19, 1999

Film ***1/2

If at first you donít succeed, try, try againÖand Universal has done just that.  After a painfully uninspired effort with their previous DVD release of Liar Liar (no widescreen, bare features), they went back to the drawing board and got it right.  Not only does their new Collectorís Edition version boast a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer, itís also packed with some juicy extras.

The premise of the movie is simple:  Fletcher Reede (Carrey) is a lawyer who finds, after his sonís birthday wish comes true, that he cannot tell a lie for 24 hours.  And worst of all, one of his biggest cases is going to be heard during that time, involving a crude buxom floozy (Tilly) whoís suing for big time alimony from her husband even though sheís cheated on him seven times.

A lawyer who has to tell the truth?  As Jay Leno remarked, ďAnd you though Independence Day had some special effects.Ē

Of course, it didnít have to be a lawyer, although that was a pretty obvious choice.  The point is, in between fits of laughter, we actually do stop and think what that would be like if it happened in our own lives.  Ours may not make as funny a film as Fletcherís does, but still, the message is clear:  though idealistically, we tout honesty is the best policy, we donít always follow it to the letter.  Our parents may have made it seem like a black and white issue, but in reality, itís more a matter of gray areas.

Fact is, right or wrong, we just might lie to spare someoneís feelings, or to get out of a sticky situation, or even to appease our bosses.  I actually told my guys Alex and Gordon here at DVD Movie Central that this review was so late because of a grease fire in my house that burned off my eyebrows.  I was actually just watching the football game on television, but what the heck, they'll never find out the truth.  ;-)

Credit must go to Jim Carrey, who mixes his usual maniacal comedy stylings with a touch of real humanity involving his relationship with his family.  He canít help but use this time of forced honesty to examine his own life, and just what his unreliability might have cost him along the way.

But letís face it, we want Carrey to be funny, and this is probably his most bravura comic performance yet.  Itís his energy level that sustains the one-joke concept and keeps the laughs coming in rapid fire fashion.  This film is definitely of the laugh-til-it-hurts variety.

So in the end, whatís the message?  That we should always tell the truth?  Ideally, yes, but I suppose even when me must dance around veracity a little, we should not do so without giving consideration to whether or not we might be doing more harm than good in the long run.  And frankly, I would also have to wager that a lawyer who canít lie wouldnít be of much use to any client.

Video ***1/2

As I mentioned, Universal got it right the second time around.  This is a very good anamorphic transfer, with sharp images and no grain evident.  Color renderings are done very well, and always appear natural.  The film features a lot of brown tones, for some reason, but each shade of brown is set apart from the other with clarity and definition. 

Audio ***

The 5.1 soundtrack is serviceable, though only really comes to life in one or two sequences as this is mostly a movie about the dialogue.

Features ****

Universal also anted up for a nice extras package here.  The disc includes a short documentary, a directorís commentary, one deleted scene, outtakes (good stuff), trailer, cast and crew bios, and production notes.

Summary:

Liar Liar is one of the 90ís true comic gems, and a definite career highlight for master funnyman Jim Carrey.  And if you want to add this disc to your library, itís definitely worth the little extra to get this terrific Collectorís Edition DVD from Universal.  Honest.