Big Fat Liar Reviews
(Full review coming soon)
The films that Frankie Muniz made in his heyday always had ridiculous premises about him going on massive adventures. This time it is a glamourous Hollywood fantasy involving him coming to blows with a Hollywood hotshot stealing his script to make it into a film. It doesn't take a genius to realise that the premise is ridiculous, but it does take a fan of Frankie Muniz films to find joy in watching Big Fat Liar. Luckily enough for me I was a pretty big fan of Malcolm in the Middle growing up and still enjoy looking back at the film. Although unfortunately as I pretty much expected, the quality of the film is no longer as good as if once ways in my eyes and now Big Fat Liar seems like a ridiculous childish adventure without much wit or originality.
The problem with Big Fat Liar is the fact that it relies too much on cliches. There are so many elements of the film that are clearly predictable that it is not hard to tell how the story will progress and where it will end, so instead viewers would be hoping for some entertainment in the comic gimmicks of the film. Here, the film is so ridiculously cheesy and child oriented that I honestly wonder if the filmmakers were really trying. If they were attempting to make a film which is unlikely to appeal to anyone outside the juvenile target audiences then they succeeded, but it is us as viewers who have to suffer as a result. There is little creativity in Big Fat Liar and it is way too familiar to have anything that makes it stand out from the crowd aside from the presence of popular child actors and some memorable imagery, ranging from big movie props to the fact that half the film has Paul Giamatti in makeup which renders his skin blue and his hair orange. Those images are easier to remember than any of the jokes in the film though, so despite the fact that the scenery of the film is good and helps to make the Hollywood setting of the story feel genuine, the colour palette of the film is not enough to make up for its lacklustre production elements in other areas.
There are times where Big Fat Liar feels like it could have been a self parody, particularly considering the fact that there were a few moments where what characters said proved to foreshadow later moments in the film. But instead of having any sort of satirical edge, Big Fat Liar proves to ignore its potential in parodying stereotypes and instead relies way too much on actually using them to tell the childish story and attempt to make jokes out of it. To simplify it, Big Fat Liar could have been a clever and half decent Hollywood satire, but since it relies too much on Hollywood cliches and generic story elements, it really does nothing to set itself apart from the countless amount of films which have a similar premise and tell the story better.
The cast of Big Fat Liar are the only consistent positive elements.
Frankie Muniz manages to put his natural young charismatic persona into the part. Fans of Malcolm in the Middle should enjoy his performance because he essentially plays out the same kind of archetype he is known for. He delivers his lines with a lot of confidence and energy and interacts with the surrounding cast as such which ensures that he has enough energy to carry the film from start to finish. As a Frankie Muniz star vehicle, Big Fat Liar manages to get a good performance out of him.
Amanda Bynes is ok. Although she is stuck with playing a generic female character and there are times where her performance gets really artificial, her energy is consistent and she manages to keep up with the story and the script well enough thanks to her juvenile charm. Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes make a good duo. Considering that the film kept them as friends instead of turning them into a romantic couple like most of the films usually do, Big Fat Liar is able to hold itself up without dissolving into tedious sentimentality and ridiculous teenage movie tropes. I know first hand that I hated when movies like this ended with a kiss between the main male and female characters, and so the fact that this time they remain nothing but friends manages to be good for the film.
Paul Giamatti is stuck with a script that isn't really that funny, but he gives an over the top performance which has him putting a lot of energy into his character during plenty of scenes. His performance demands different skills of him, and he manages to make a memorable effort simply because he gets the perfect egotistical nature and antagonistic persona for the part, so he is memorable for his appearance in Big Fat Liar.
The supporting performance of Donald Faison was hilarious considering how much success he later experienced on the comedy series Scrubs. I always thought he was funny in the part, and considering now that he portrayed my favourite character on Scrubs, it is a nice piece of nostalgia to look at him in Big Fat Liar and realise just who he was the whole time.
John Cho's cameo was a decent touch as well.
So Big Fat Liar has the ability to appeal to juveniles as a star vehicle for Frankie Muniz and for featuring a performance by Amanda Bynes, but the fact that it resorts to nothing but a cliche ridden script featuring stereotypical and predictable plot elements makes it harder to admire after having grown up and learned to appreciate what a truly good comedy film is actually made of.