Big Fat Whatever 

Big Fat Liar (PG)
Universal Pictures

When young Jason Shepard (Frankie Muniz) has his creative writing assignment stolen by a famous and nasty Hollywood producer (Paul Giamatti) who turns it into a high-concept Hollywood blockbuster, Jason is in a pickle. He's a habitual, and very effective, liar, and no one except his friend Kaylee (Amanda Bynes) believes him. In order to get his credibility back in the eyes of his parents, Jason and Kaylee hightail it to Hollywood to get the very nasty producer to admit he stole it. The very nasty producer refuses, and in the last half of the film Jason turns his lying talents into an amusing revenge caper.

It's hard to believe Big Fat Liar wasn't given a G rating. It was so completely devoid of libido and so overacted in places that I thought it might be geared for the under-12 set. Giamatti plays the over-the-top, all-but-mustache-twisting villain like the bad guy in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the witch in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And, even though the story revolves around a healthy 14-year-old boy and a long-legged 14-year-old girl with an always-evident Brittney midriff, the hormones seemed to be squeezed right out of them.

Maybe they were just too blown away by the Universal set, where most of the revenge action takes place, to think about any heavy petting. In a new twist to product placement, there was an almost constant homage to the studio's pictures, from Jaws to The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Still, although none of Big Fat Liar is particularly compelling, neither is it terribly noxious (aside from the rampant product placement). You could easily take your 10-year-old daughter, niece, neighbor, whatever, and not look at your watch.

That's hardly a ringing endorsement, but it could be worse.


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