Cheap and light

Big Fat Liar is a lot like cotton candy - it goes down easy, but there's not an awful lot to it.

Take the plot - there are holes here you could hide a reasonably quiet country in. Young Jason Shepherd, with his own history of lying, is caught in a corner by his parents and his teacher, and writes a short story about the consequences of lies. Through the sort of first act coincidence audiences don't think twice about, Jason catches a ride with a Hollywood producer, and accidently leaves the paper in the limo. The producer reads it, and decides to steal the idea and make it into a movie. How does Jason find out? By seeing the trailer in a theater. His parents do not believe he wrote the story. He decides to go to Hollywood and get the producer to admit where the story came from. When does he arrive? Before shooting starts. How do you make a trailer before production starts? Sure, it's possible, but usually there a special point to bothering with the effort. The trailer here seems to feature scenes from the final film, which means either extraordinary effort is behind the production (which is not borne out by the film), or there's something just silly here.

Maybe I'm not being fair. The film is clearly aimed at younger (probably under twelve) audiences. Putting my adult senses into play here understandably brings up this sort of thing. But can I let it slide?

For the most part, yes, for the film is fun. The producer, Marty Wolf, is the kind of slimeball that the good guy really needs to put in his place, and Jason (really, the script) is very imaginative putting him there. There's enough inside adult humor to get us by, and seeing Paul Giamatti in swim trunks one or two sizes too small says a lot about his acting abilities.

And speaking of those trunks, why aren't they dyed blue at the same time he is, huh?

Jason is played by Frankie Muniz of the television show Malcolm in the Middle - a show I don't actually care for that much. Here, he plays such a prototypical character, one we've seen so many times before, uncontroversial even in his lies - which mainly serve to endear him to the audience. Muniz is good in the role, for what it is, which explains the demand for his talents in these youth-oriented films.

Jason is accompanied by friend Kaylee, played by perky Amanda Bynes. The character is best explained by the need of young girls in the target audience to identify with someone. Looking past the slight incongruity in their relationship, she provides a gentle foil for Muniz, and brings more personality to the table than we generally see in these roles.

If you can look past the plot holes and the obvious morality play, there's a lot to enjoy in the individual scenes, some of which may stay with you for a while.

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