LIAR LIAR - HD DVD review

Samuel L. Jackson once said it best at the MTV Movie Awards: Jim, Funny Mother…

DeanWink

Jim Carrey used to be the comedy king. After "The Mask," two "Ace Ventura" films, "Dumb and Dumber" and "Liar Liar," Carrey was on a roll. The funnyman would quickly move on to diversify his acting portfolio and the zaniness and pure energy that was part of what made him one of Hollywood's biggest stars began to subside. Over the years, he has rekindled some of his manic madness with "Me, Myself & Irene," "Fun with Dick and Jane" and "Bruce Almighty," but "Liar Liar" was the last time Jim Carrey took to the screen as a Crowned Prince of Comedy. After this 1997 film, Carrey would be a tainted man and missteps like "The Cable Guy," "The Truman Show," "The Majestic" and "The Number 23," the man with the rubbery face and limitless supply of energy is no longer the same person.

Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) is a talented defense lawyer who has just taken a huge case for his firm in defending adulterous divorcee Samantha Cole (Jennifer Tilly) and is likely to be offered a partnership by his boss Miranda (Amanda Donohoe). His professional life is flying high, but his personal life is in shambles. His ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney) is moving on with her new beau Jerry (Cary Elwes) and is preparing to move to Boston. His son Max (Justin Cooper) is consistently placed in a state of disappointment by his father and Jerry is quickly becoming a better father than Fletcher.

When Max has finally had it with his father when Fletcher does not show for his birthday party, the boy wishes for only one thing; he wishes that his father can no longer tell a lie. The wish comes true and Fletcher finds himself quickly and violently ejected from Miranda's bedroom and finds himself unable to properly defend sexy Samantha Cole during a high profile court case for his firm. No matter what Fletcher says, it is the truth. He is unable to tell a lie and constantly finds himself in undesirable circumstances. During his incurable and unwanted bout of honesty, Fletcher quickly realizes how poor of a father he has become and sees how he has only created unhappiness for all of those around him. He begins to look at himself in a different light and realizes that his world based upon lies and deceit is not the life he wishes to lead.

The principle plot device of "Liar Liar" is laughable, but this is easily one of Jim Carrey's finest comedies. It is wholly impossible for a man to be cursed to truth by a child's birthday wish. However, the film would not be plausible if this plot device was grounded in reality. In "Liar Liar," Jim Carrey is at his best. His incredible energy exudes through each scene and Carrey's facial contortions, over-reaching physical movements and overacting are all in glorious full display. "Liar Liar" truly is Jim Carrey at his best and the actor that became famous for playing a zany pet detective is on full display as a zany lawyer. The supporting cast of Cary Elwes, Justin Cooper, Maura Tierney and Anne Haney all manage to keep a straight face when Carrey is going full-bore.

Many say that another comic, Robin Williams, was best in his early days. I have always agreed and I believe that Jim Carrey is another comic that was best in his early days. A young Robin Williams is about the only other man who could have put the energy, physical comedy, madness and humanity into the role of Fletcher Reede. Jim Carrey's brand of humor is not for everybody. However, for everybody that finds Jim Carrey to be a very funny individual, this movie is hilarious 87 minutes. Samuel L. Jackson once said it best at the MTV Movie Awards: "Jim, Funny Mother…" and you can fill in the last word yourself, but Mr. Jackson said it best. Jim Carrey was a very funny man back then and this is one of his best films.

Video:
At a decade old, "Liar Liar" looks very good on High Definition DVD. The 1.85:1 film is framed with 1080p maximum resolution and keeps Universal's standard VC-1 codec to deliver the highly colored and detailed image to life. "Liar Liar" bests many recent films that have arrived on the format and although I have yet to sit down and watch "Bruce Almighty" on HD-DVD, this is the best I have ever seen a Jim Carrey movie look in high definition. The film has a three dimensional appeal throughout the film. I'm certainly keeping my hopes up that the two "Ace Ventura" and "The Mask" can hold up as nicely for their high definition debuts. Every single nook and cranny of Carrey's face can be seen. Clothing fabric shows true texture and the scene where Jim Carrey beats himself up shows the discs ability to hold up to complex and detailed patterns when the floor tiling shows no ill affects from the digital mastering.

Sound:
While the visuals have held up nicely for the past ten years, the same cannot be said for the film's Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack. Being a comedy, one would not expect a lot from the soundtrack, but the vast majority of "Liar Liar" lives only in the mixes center channel. Left and right channels help convey the film's musical score by John Debney and often provides crowd effects and other sound information, but even when Jim Carrey is making the most noise, there is not a large amount of life in anything but the center channel. At a few times, I pondered if I had somehow managed to get my wires crossed and if my front channels were spewing rear surround information. The .1 LFE channel is absent throughout the film. This dialogue driven film does present clear and clean vocals and every word is easily understandable, but this is a very slim sounding mix. A French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is also provided.

Extras:
"Liar Liar" features a few nice supplements from the previous DVD and LaserDisc releases. First up is the Feature Commentary with Director Tom Shadyac. Shadyac and Carrey had collaborated when Carrey was still just a Pet Detective and the director has nothing but admiration for his star. Shadyac is personable and while this is not the most engaging commentary track, it is a nice listen. Bridging the Comedy Chasm (16:06) is a short feature with Jim Carrey being silly and showing off his ability to improvise and entertain. I'm not sure if Jim Carrey spends more than two seconds being serious through this little making of feature and Brian Grazer's hair frightened me. The Deleted Scene (3:52) features Jim Carrey in the courtroom before his tragic bout of honesty and would have been used to set up his character's courtroom charisma where Fletcher Reede tries to convince the jury that his oversized client was terrorized by a feeble old man. Funny stuff. The Outtakes (1:34) are funny, but way too short. The Theatrical Trailer completes the supplements.

Closing Comments:
If you haven't figured it out already, I avidly enjoy the older Jim Carrey comedies and thoroughly enjoy the comedian's hilarious antics in "Liar Liar." While not as classic as "The Mask" or "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "Liar Liar" is a film where Carrey's physical comedy shows no bounds and he bounces around the screen as only he is capable of doing. The plot is solely intended to provide instances for Carrey to be funny and it succeeds. Carrey has always worked well with director Tom Shadyac and one hopes that there are more projects that will feature the pairing of director and star. Jim Carrey no longer makes films that are this downright silly and outright funny. This was the end of "Early Carrey" and there is hardly a moment when there isn't something to laugh about. The HD-DVD features a very nice looking picture, but a thin sounding surround mix. The features are ported from previous releases, but nice none-the-less. If you are looking for a good comedy and Jim Carrey suit's your tastes, then this HD-DVD title will be a welcome addition to your high definition library.

Ratings

Video
9
Audio
6
Extras
7
Film Value
8