Movie Review - Liar, Liar
'Liar, Liar' truly hilarious
Jim Carrey, a great physical comic, works hard for his funny

Selena BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jim Carrey is growing up.

Or, shall we say, his comic character -- the loose-limbed wild man with a flatulence fixation -- is edging away from Ace Ventura.

In Liar, Liar, Mr. Carrey plays Fletcher Reede, a lawyer who controls his career, colleagues, friends, boss (Amanda Donohoe), ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney) and son Max (Justin Cooper) with glib fibs. Then Max wishes for one day of truth-telling from dad, and magically (we never learn why or how), it happens.
MOVIE REVIEW
Liar, Liar
***
(PG-13; crude language, sexual references) Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Justin Cooper. 87 minutes. At National Amusements, Danbarry Middletown, Princess Oxford, Showplace 8.

Most of the film is devoted to watching Fletcher try to force falsehoods through his non-cooperative lips, or to hold back an honest answer to a direct question.

The results, for the most part, are hilarious. Mr. Carrey's talent for inspired physical comedy is unequaled among working comics, and Liar, Liar gives him enough room to turn himself loose -- without the need to stuff vegetables in his face. (Although the movie can't resist one gag about passing gas.)

He takes great risks -- at one point he literally beats himself up to avoid telling the truth about his client during a trial -- and makes most of them pay off.

Whether turning a meeting of law partners into a show-biz roast or desperately trying not to confess an old lie to his loyal secretary, Mr. Carrey attacks the material with exuberant energy.

He also shows some authentic emotion. Stripped of his smart-mouthed act, Fletcher can't deflect the pain he's caused the people around him. The moment when he says ''I'm a bad father,'' and means it, is touchingly real.

Director Tom Shadyac allows things to get out of hand during the

extended courtroom sequences, when Mr. Carrey winds up playing entire scenes at the top of his lungs. It's too much, and it dilutes the impact of funnier stuff.

Kids will be attracted to Liar, Liar, but parents should beware. It contains much crude language and many sexual references.

The supporting cast is well chosen, including Swoozie Kurtz as an opposing lawyer. As an earnest suitor who wants to take Audrey and Max away, Cary Elwes is wickedly buoyant, apparently channeling Ron Howard in full-scale Richie Cunningham mode.

The filmmakers steal a page from Jackie Chan, running outtakes during the closing credits. Just as Mr. Chan's outtakes show what a drubbing he takes to create his acrobatic stunts, Mr. Carrey's flubs allow a peek at the psychic high-wire he walks to achieve all that hyperbolic clowning. The effect is surprisingly touching. No matter what you think of his humor, by gum, the man works hard.

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