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Directed by Tom Shedyac (1997, Universal Pictures)
Starring Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Justin Cooper, Cary Elwes and Anne Haney

A birthday spell is cast on a boy's lawyer father so that he can't lie, even in the courtroom.

View count: Twice



3 stars

September 22nd, 2002 on TV  
    Jim Carrey single-handedly pulls this comedy off, although I am not fond of his physical humor, which was on the screen for far too long.

When I first saw this film, in the theatre, I remember thinking that it was the funniest movie I had seen in a long time. I don't remember all of Jim Carrey's faces, stumbling around, and bouncing into walls, etc. I am not a fan of his physical humor, and I think directors spend way too much time with him simply standing in front of the camera doing it. This applies to The Grinch as well as this movie. His physical comedy works best when he is speaking dialog, so that there is a counterpoint to what his body is doing. When he tries to lie, and makes faces doing it, because he wants to say something and can't, it's more amusing. But his best faces come after realizing what he has said, after he says it, like his first truth "I've had better". He spends four or five scenes trying to figure out why he said that, and the faces he makes are similar to what anybody would make trying to understand why they said something stupid, but more exaggerated.

Fletcher's day comes crashing down on him after his son makes a wish that he cannot tell a lie for a full day. This is because Fletcher never keeps his promises, which are made in the hope of telling people what they want to hear. For Max, who adores his absent father, this is simply to spend time with him, whether at his birthday, at a wrestling match, or playing baseball. Every time he makes a promise, something comes up, or he forgets, and his ex-wife, Audrey, comes to Max's rescue.

Tired of seeing the little heart broken again and again, she decides to accept her new boyfriend's offer of marriage. But it's for all the wrong reasons: she is mad at Fletcher. She cannot even tell Jerry that she loves him. And when he proposes, he says "we're a perfect match, I love Max, you love Max!" but he neglects to say that he loves her!

The heartbreaking parts of the film all include Audrey and Max. Jerry is a personality similar to the one she divorced years ago. He is immature, and very annoying! His imitation of Fletcher's "claw" is particularly embarrassing.

But all of the comedy comes from Fletcher's end. He is, of course, a lawyer. He is trying to make partner in the law firm, and has a big case, in which he has to lie all the way through, that will put him over the top. All through the day, he tells the truth, whether it's to his secretary (played wonderfully), a police officer (a very funny moment) or to his client and the judge. He manages to win the case on truth, but only after he nearly blows it because he can't even ask questions when he knows the answer will be a lie.

Therein lies the largest nit-pick in the movie. Fletcher cannot say something if it will be a lie, so he should be prevented from saying something that cannot come true. If "fate" knew that he would be held up in traffic, it would not let him tell his son that he would play ball that afternoon. That applies to going to jail, as well.

Another nit concerns that prenuptial agreement. I don't know anything about the fine points of law, but it seems to me that since the pre-nup was honored in good faith for thirteen years (well, maybe not really good faith!), it should still hold up under the law, even if it was signed against the law. As Fletcher said, he manipulated the system. I don't know if the judge fell for it, or if he was required to do so. But it does lead to Fletcher's great "I hold myself in contempt" speech, which of course puts him in contempt of court, and jail!

When Fletcher sees what a poor parent his client is, he realizes that he doesn't want to represent the pitiful and greedy anymore, and will likely open a new law firm defending the people who deserve to be defended. And when he is finally let out of prison, he chases down a 747 on a stairway vehicle, which manages to outrun the plane on takeoff! As silly and stupid as that sounds, the scene actually works because of everybody's reaction, especially Audrey's ("everybody wave"), but even the pilots ("it looks like a shoe")! Logically, he would not have crashed through the wall because the plane would never be so close to it, and the stairway car would not have such good steering, of course, but it was funny nonetheless.

As mindless comedies go, this one is well worth seeing. I am not fond of Jim Carrey's antics, but he manages to pull off the comedy in this show very well. There is also the "aw, shucks" factor of Max and Audrey, which increases the appeal of this movie.


3 stars

March 27th, 1997 in the Theatre  

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