Friday, March 1, 2024

Flashback/Film Friday: "Big Fat Liar," Holds Up Decades Later

In some recent interviews relating to his fantastic role in, "The Holdovers," actor Paul Giamatti discussed how a number of people still recognize him initially for, "Big Fat Liar." A family-friendly comedy from 2002, it follows a young boy who tends to lie all the time (played by Frankie Muniz). In an attempt to not fail English and be stuck in Summer school he writes a big story a make-u assignment--then gets hit by the limo of a movie exec in town filming a flick. That bigwig happens to be Marty Wolf, played by Giamatti. Muniz leaves his story behind in the limo (by accident) when he hitches a ride in exchange for not causing a scene. Then Marty Wolf steals the story and plans to make it into a huge movie.

It sounds a little outlandish, but the thing is that Giamatti portrays Wolf with such a sleazy authenticity and determination you find yourself believing, "Yeah, this guy would steal a story from a 14-year-old kid." A number of other talents are in the flick as well, from a shockingly young Taram Killam to Amanda Bynes at the height of her popularity from, "All That," and, "The Amanda Show." Her role is actually relatively understated compared to some of her sketch characters, but this isn't really a movie about her or the supposedly titular liar Muniz, this is Giamatti's showcase. 

Whether he's spending half the movie dyed blue due to a prank by Muniz, screaming at elderly women in the way of his car, or beating up (an admittedly aggressive) kid at a birthday party who mistakes him for the clown (due to the blue body paint), Giamatti manages to be over-the-top yet not so outlandish it hurts our suspension of disbelief. Yes, it is a little far-fetched at the end of the movie that a bunch of other Hollywood talents band together with Muniz and Bynes to trick Wolf into admitting he stole the story...but the dude is a huge dick. He screams at John Cho's character with vaguely racist overtones about camera setups, insults the age of a stunt coordinator who requests a single day off for his grandkid's birthday party, and seems to care about only himself at the expense of all others. By the climax of the flick, we're outright cheering to see Wolf finally get his comeuppance. The fact all the ways he gets screwed over are quite funny is just the icing on the cake.

"Big Fat Liar," came out in 2002 and still is pretty hilarious to this day. Not every single joke holds up and this is a PG-rated movie so don't expect anything too extreme, but yeah, "Big Fat Liar," is another solid example of Paul Giamatti and his acting range. It isn't streaming anywhere, but you can always buy a DVD of it or purchase a digital copy. You ought to, it is pretty fun.

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