Liar Liar has a exceedingly simple story to it indeed it is such a slim concept that one suspects if the film did not have Jim Carrey to carry it, it is unlikely it would have been granted a cinematic release. As a story, it is childrens holiday season tv movie filler material. In itself, the film is passably light; it is just that Jim Carrey is completely miscast in the central role. The story operates on a simple arc an amoral bastard of a lawyer is forced to act honest for just one day and in so doing finds his own redemption. What the role needs is someone like a Danny DeVito whom one can enjoy hating while playing the bastard part and enjoy seeing squirm as he undergoes grudging redemption in fact, one could not think of an actor that the script would be better suited to than DeVito.
However, with Jim Carrey the part becomes one of rafter-rattling excess yelled from the rooftops whether Carrey is playing the lying bastard, whether he is playing being forced to be honest or whether he is playing the redeemed man. It is a performance without any gradations or shades of grey. Indeed, Jim Carrey only seems to regard the film as a springboard to go loose. During the courtroom scenes, you realise you are meant to be holding your breath as the character is squirming on a hook trying to get out of his predicament but all you end up watching is Jim Carrey smashing a toilet up with his head. The best parts about the film are actually the outtakes as the end credits roll with Carrey fooling around and flubbing various lines that show Carrey as much more likeable and naturalistic than anything else he does in the film.
The other annoying thing about Liar Liar is its moral bankruptcy. The greater part of the film is centred around getting us to celebrate Jim Carreys triumph in getting a dishonest woman a greater divorce settlement than she is entitled to. The film paints this as a rightful triumph without any concern for the husband. One does not have any particular qualms about this. However, when the film then turns around and tries to get outraged about the dishonest woman wanting to take child custody from the good and deserving father because there is more money in it, it surely reveals its moral bankruptcy. It seems absurdly hypocritical to celebrate one such dishonesty and then turn about on a moral platform and condemn the other.
Liar Liar was directed by Tom Shadyac who previously put Jim Carrey through his paces in the first Ace Ventura film. Tom Shadyac has established himself as a director of light and very silly mainstream comedies. Shadyac had previously made the comic take on the Frankenstein legend with the tv movie Frankenstein: The College Years (1991) and followed it with his and Eddie Murphys finest work, The Nutty Professor (1996). Subsequent to this, Shadyac made Patch Adams (1998), the serious ghost story Dragonfly (2002) and then reteamed with Jim Carrey for Bruce Almighty (2003), followed by the Carrey-less sequel Evan Almighty (2007).