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Max Reede: My dad? He's... a liar.
Liar Liar is a 1997 comedy starring Jim Carrey.
Lawyer Fletcher Reede is both career-focused and (as his profession demands) an expert in lying. His son Max (Justin Cooper) gets frustrated at him two days in a row (first when he promises to take him to the wrestling... and gets a lot of work to do at the last hour; and then misses Max's birthday party while... well, while his boss Miranda (Amanda Donohoe) is keeping him "busy"). Disillusioned once again, Max wishes while blowing out his cake candles that Fletcher couldn't tell a lie for just one day.
And the wish works. Fletcher is absolutely incapable of saying any lie no matter how big or small, or even asking a question if he knows the answer is going to be a lie, or even deceiving by remaining silent. He quickly finds just how much he really does lie in one day and how much trouble he gets into because of telling the absolute truth...
...on the day that not only Fletcher has one of the most important cases of his life, with defenses built mostly on lies, but Audrey (Maura Tierney), Fletcher's ex-wife (and Max's mom) is interested in moving with her boyfriend to Boston, and bringing Max along! Hilarity Ensues.
Tropes used include:
Max: If I keep making this face *makes silly face* will it be stuck that way?
- Adorkable: Jerry
- Amoral Attorney: Fletcher, at first.
- Betty and Veronica: Jerry is the Betty, Fletcher is the Veronica and Audrey is the Archie.
- Big Yes: Fletcher belts one out after preventing the plane to Boston from taking off... followed immediately by a Big No as he crashes into a pile of traveling bags and cargo.
- Bittersweet Ending: Fletcher destroys another man's family in order to save his own, though that family was already being ripped apart anyway, and Fletcher's realization that "winning the case" had rewarded a cheating spouse by punishing the loyal spouse and good parent was part of what inspired him to change.
- Actully this bout of honesty does get him noticed by a fellow firm. It stated that they'll appeal the decision. So hey not all bad.
- Brutal Honesty: To his clients, to total strangers, and to himself.
- Can Not Tell a Lie: Or even refuse to answer a question.
- Cassandra Truth
Judge Stevens: I'll have to hear good cause, counsel. What's the problem?
- Casting Couch: Fletcher sleeps with his (female, good-looking) boss in the hope that it'll help his career. His son's birthday wish takes effect at exactly the wrong time...
- Character Development: Fletcher realizes all his mistakes and becomes more sincere and careful about his relationship with his family (especially with his son) as the movie goes on.
- Chewbacca Defense: In a cut scene.
- Cheating with the Milkman: If you listen closely to the "sex tape" you can hear the man Samantha Cole is with say "I have to go clean the pool."
- Cool Old Lady: Greta, Fletcher's secretary.
- Deadpan Snarker: Fletcher, indeed.
- Derailing Love Interests: Averted. Jerry is introduced as a genuinely nice and sweet man who treats Audrey and Max well, and although he doesn't care for Fletcher he's civil to him. When he realizes Fletcher still loves his family and the lengths he'll go to in order to keep them, he lets them go and just lets Audrey know he's there if she changes her mind. The only thing you could really say about him is that he's a bit of a goofball, which Audrey admits he can be sometimes.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: "... I've had better??"
- Digging Yourself Deeper
- Disposable Fiancé
- Divorce Is Temporary: Fletcher and Audrey get back together in the final scene. They of course ask their son if he made another birthday wish to cause it.
- Drives Like Crazy: Fletcher when trying to get home after learning Audrey is going to move. "I'm an inconsiderate prick!"
- Eureka Moment: Right when the case seems lost, Fletcher's client makes an off-hand remark about her age. This turns the case upside down.
- As well when Audrey tells Fletcher about what Max wished for the previous night.
- Evil Lawyer Joke: The page quote. And, indeed, the whole film.
- Exact Words: Fletcher can't use them, but he can be caught by anyone else using them. As it says elsewhere on this page, not only can he not lie, but he can't even evade the truth, deceive while remaining silent or choose not to answer. Several times he gets into trouble because he is asked a question which he could have given a better answer to if the other person had just happened to phrase it differently.
- When Fletcher calls his boss "a worthless steaming pile of cow dung" he has to add on the tag "figuratively speaking."
- Best example: "Is that justice?!"
- Face Fault: Only Jim Carrey can get away with doing one and make it look funny.
- False Reassurance: He does manage to pull this off once, though. In order to get an extension on the trial without lying he beats himself up in the bathroom, stumbles into the court and truthfully describes his attacker (himself).
- First Father Wins
- Flipping the Bird: "Here's your raise!"
- Freudian Slip
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Fletcher's current case isn't one (although it is fraudulent), but he isn't against taking cases like this:
Greta: Mr. Reede, several years ago a friend of mine had a burglar on her roof, a burglar. He fell through the kitchen skylight, landed on a cutting board, on a butcher's knife, cutting his leg. The burglar sued my friend, he sued my friend. And because of guys like you he won. My friend had to pay the burglar $6,000. Is that justice?
- Gag Boobs: Fletcher's interactions with his new neighbor, played by Krista Allen, who is best known for the Emmanuelle In Space series. And of course, Mrs. Cole being played by Jennifer Tilly doesn't hurt...
- Gasshole: "It was me!" as Fletcher retreats from an elevator whose other passengers are holding their noses and looking daggers at him.
- Gold Digger
- Head Desk
- Heel Realization: "Lemme tell you somethin'! I'm a bad father! ... I mean... I'm a bad father..."
- Hilarious Outtakes: It's a Jim Carrey movie. What else would you expect?
- "Mrs Cole! .... A goose!"
Fletcher: "105 pounds! Yeah... in your BRA!"
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: "You slammed her! You dunked her donut! You gave her dog a Snausage! YOU STUFFED HER LIKE A THANKSGIVING TURKEY!" [Makes gobbling noises]
- Ignoring by Singing: Fletcher knows he is cursed to speak the truth when answering a question, but not if he can't hear the question!
- The Immodest Orgasm: Mrs. Cole, revealed by her "sex tape".
- Inflationary Dialogue
- Insult To Injury: A passerby giving Fletcher money as he sags despondently on the courthouse steps following his self-inflicted beatdown.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Jerry lets Audrey stay in LA so Max doesn't have to be away from his father.
- Large Ham: The outtakes even have this exchange:
Swoosie Kurtz: Your Honor, I object!
- Followed by Kurtz pointing to someone off-camera (Tom Shadyac, the director), saying he put her up to it, and Carrey hugs her, mugging hammily, "Oh no! They're on to me!"
- Long List: When Fletcher is stopped after reckless driving...
Officer: You know why I pulled you over?
- Madness Mantra: THE PEN IS BLUE. THE PEN IS BLUE!!
- Magical Realism: How the birthday wish came true is never explained. It seems it just sometimes happens in the movie's world.
Fletcher: This is one of those 24-hour curses.
- Make a Wish: The film's Applied Phlebotinum.
- Motor Mouth: See Long List.
- My God, What Have I Done?
- No Indoor Voice: Pretty much any of Fletcher's pronouncements after the realization sets in, but maybe most famously: STOP BREAKIN' THE LAW, ASSHOOOOOLE!
- Off on a Technicality: How Fletcher wins the trial. He even cites it.
- Organ Autonomy: THE CLAW!
- Parents as People: Deconstructed. Fletcher tries to have a relationship with his son, but is often too busy to do so, and the fact that he's a pathological liar doesn't help. These are the exact reasons Max ends up making that wish.
- Penultimate Outburst
- Principles Zealot: Essentially, this is the result of the wish--Fletcher is an unwilling zealot, admittedly, but his behavior matches a classic comedic Principles Zealot pretty closely.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I! CAN'T! LIE!"
- Race For Your Love: Interesting version - it's a father's love for his son that's being raced for here.
- Really Gets Around:
Fletcher: After all that, your husband wants to deny you a fair and equitable share of the marital assets based on one single act of indiscretion.
- Really Seventeen Years Old: Fletcher discovers that Mrs. Cole lied about her age when she got married, rendering the prenuptial and the original marriage contract void, but leaving her still entitled to half her (ex)husband's wealth as they had lived together long enough to be considered common-law married anyways.
- Refuge in Audacity: Fletcher's immediate boss learns of his current problem and takes him to the firm's board meeting where he regretfully tells everyone the honest truth of what he thinks of them. They end up in stitches laughing, loving the no-holds barred roasting.
- Required Secondary Powers: In a way, and for plot purposes. Not only does he have a truth-telling "superpower", but he also seems to be incapable of holding back the truth that is on his mind and spits it right out. For instance when he's pulled over by the police Fletcher seems incapable of reserving his 5th amendment right to stay silent, or simply say "yes" when asked if he knows why he was pulled over. (See "Long List" above for a quote from the scene).
- He also learns, to his horror, that he can't ask witnesses in court rehearsed questions if he knows they're going to lie. And he demonstrates a zig-zagging inability to not tell the direct truth — he never tells the judge he's ill but then talks as if he is, but when asked if he can proceed with the trial after his "mugging", he says yes instead of simply stating he'd prefer not to.
- Sarcastic Confession: When forced to tell the senior partners what he really thinks of them, he saves himself from near-certain firing when the chairman thinks he's being roasted and starts laughing.
- Self-Deprecation / Lampshade Hanging:
Max: If I keep making this face (makes a face) will it get stuck that way?
- Shadow Archetype: Miranda serves as a dark reflection of Fletcher. She and Fletcher are both Amoral Attorneys who lie through their teeth to win cases, which is the whole reason Miranda was attracted to him in the first place. If Max hadn't made that wish, Fletcher may have wound up in her position.
- Spit Take: Reede does a rather epic one right before his That Was Objectionable moment.
- Stealth Insult: See Sarcastic Confession.
- Taking the Kids
- That Was Objectionable:
- Truth Serum
- The Unfair Sex: Parodied. Jennifer Tilly's character Really Gets Around, but Fletcher convinces her that she was "driven into the arms of another man." Meanwhile, he's pretty much lost his son as a result of his own infidelity.
Audrey: You forget that when we were married, I wasn't having sex nearly as often as you were.
- Volleying Insults: The scene in the Large Ham quote.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Fletcher beats the ever-living crap out of himself in the bathroom so that the court session could be postponed. When asked who did it, he describes the assailant--himself--as "A madman, Your Honor! A desperate fool on the end of his pitiful rope!" Still, Fletcher's scheme fails when he's forced to admit that he still feels physically able to continue with the case.