Occasionally the temptation of a no-brainer, passive-entertainment, time-killing flick is too much to resist. If you find yourself in this position any time soon, “Big Fat Liar” is not the movie to give in to.
In a formulaic film built on a tenuous comedic foundation of situational humor, teenage one-liners, slapstick and pratfalls, Frankie Muniz (“My Dog Skip,” “Malcolm in the Middle”) plays Jason Shepherd, a too-hip skateboard riding, Coke-guzzling, studio-manufactured pre-teen heartthrob who whips up the story “Big Fat Liar,” in order to save his sorry ass from summer school.
Marty Wolf (Paul Giammatti, “Planet of the Apes,” “Big Momma”s House,”) is a sleazy, greasy, caricature of a Hollywood producer who crosses paths with Jason after Jason, frantically biking to school to turn in the story, collides with Marty”s limo. The entire premise of the movie unfolds in this scene Marty gives Jason a ride to class, but Jason drops his essay and leaves it in the limo for the conniving producer to discover, steal and eventually turn into the most-anticipated blockbuster of the summer.
Jason only discovers Marty”s stunt when he and his friend Kaylee (Amanda Bynes, “The Amanda Show,” “All That”) are watching television together and a commercial for the upcoming film “Big Fat Liar” appears.
Jason and Kaylee pack their bags and head to Los Angeles intent on confronting Marty. The rest of the movie is an arrogant collection of antics and hi-jinx that already have been done in every Olsen twins or early-“90s Disney movie ever made. In “Big Fat Liar”s” pinnacle of comedic artistry, Jason and Kaylee manage to arrange for Marty to be dyed completely blue. The humor is superficial, the dialogue contrived and the point nonexistent.
Giammatti, who has made appearances in two Woody Allen movies (“Mighty Aphrodite” and “Deconstructing Harry”) and who has had roles in several other respectable films (“Man on the Moon,” “Saving Private Ryan”) has sold out to a role that clearly was designed for Rob Schneider. Muniz and Bynes represent the scrime of teenage talent who, admittedly, fill out their roles as well as the lamer than lame screenplay could allow.
“Big Fat Liar” may be an overly obvious satire of the over-stereotyped Hollywood shark. The movie, however, lacks any semblance of subtlety or cleverness, and its face value represents exactly what it is worth: Not nine dollars.