Big Fat Liar - PG
Best for: All ages will enjoy this family-friendly movie.
What it's about: Jason Shepherd (Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz) is a popular kid with a bad habit: He lies to get his way, or to get himself out of trouble. Skateboarding to school one day, Jason accidentally collides with a limo carrying Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti). After the limo drops Jason off, he realizes he left an important assignment in the car, but no one believes his story.
A few months later, Jason sees a movie trailer and realizes the producer stole his story idea, but again, no one believes his claim. Jason decides to take matters into his own hands, heading to Hollywood with his best friend, Kaylee (Nickelodeon's Amanda Bynes), to claim his rightful credit, teach the crooked producer a lesson and ultimately face the worst side of his own personality. Amanda Detmer, Lee Majors, Lawrence Watson, Josh Rusin, Alex Breckenridge and Marisa Parker also star.
The good: This is a fun-filled, family-friendly story that delivers the kind of teen humor Muniz is known for on his television show. The talented star knows how to play the bright kid who outsmarts-most adults around him while still gaining sympathy from the audience. Giamatti is equally as accomplished at playing the obnoxious, self-important Hollywood producer who thinks he can manipulate the truth or circumstances without anyone noticing or caring.
The importance of honesty and trust, as well as a person's ethical character and behavior, are themes that make this movie worth taking your kids and teens to see.
The last half of this movie is filled with adventurous chase scenes, a flood, a little martial arts and lots of adventure. The fact that this movie earned an award from FAB (film advisory board) for excellence in "quality family entertainment" makes it even more appealing and worth seeing.
The not-so-good: There are several scenes with pranks and pratfalls as well as lots of sarcastic comments and behavior. Since the characters pay the consequences for that behavior in the end, it has a redemptive theme and moral ending. The only scene that might cause some parents to squirm is when a spoiled birthday boy and his friends jump on a character, mistaking him for a birthday clown, and yell "Die clown, die!" That scene and other behavior (like young teens flying across the country by themselves to wreak revenge) should be discussed with your impressionable kids afterwards.
Offensive language: No cursing, just a few sarcastic comments that belittle, berate and "put down" a couple of characters.
Sexual situations: None
Violence: Pratfalls, pranks, a man gets pushed around by kids at a party, a man is mildly threatened by a tow truck.
Parental advisory: Parents will enjoy it as much as the kids, especially if you like the Malcolm in the Middle style of irreverent comedy. Younger kids may need to have certain mature issues explained to them.
Bottom line: This is an example of a fun-filled adventure story that kids and younger teens will relate to and parents will appreciate because of the underlying themes about telling the truth. This is a big fat winner for the whole family, and that's the truth!