Liar Liar

Liar Liar

Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful aside, milking the Holocaust for laughs is a dangerous game. Even the blackest, most therapeutic humor turns queasy in the shadow of such monstrous evil; it's like dancing on a mass grave. So Jakob the Liar's got a hard road to hoe--its eponymous schlemiel plays out his semi-farcical adventures in the mean streets of the Warsaw Ghetto circa 1944. The skies are always leaden over Jakob's hometown, reflecting the comic climate that pervades this mostly unfortunate adaptation of Jurek Becker's autobiographical book (first filmed in 1975). Jakob Heym (Robin Williams in overbearingly earnest mode) gets tangled in a string of self-perpetuating lies about a hidden radio, supposedly broadcasting news that the victorious Red Army is nearing. His desperate attempts to convince a clutch of insistently idiosyncratic friends (clichés to a man: Liev Schreiber, Bob Balaban, Michael Jeter, Alan Arkin) and obligatory Nazi bad guys that the radio doesn't exist are complicated by the fact that he's stashed a fugitive kid (a dead ringer--sorry!--for Anne Frank) in his attic--and by abundant evidence that lies are the best medicine for the ghetto's skyrocketing suicide rate. Copious unfunny misunderstandings and pratfalls eventuate in this Holocaust rendition of Fiddler on the Roof (you expect Williams to break into song: "If I were a funny man...."). Ultimately, Jakob the Liar loses its way for good in some very ugly violence and a rather nasty final twist: the film's ending might just be rubbing our noses in another feel-good lie. --Kathleen Murphy

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Director(s): Tom Shadyac
Production: Universal Pictures
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Mr. Allen, you remember Fletcher Reede.

Mr. Allen:
Oh, yes! Yes. Nice to see you again, Fletcher. By the way, I'll be observing you in court this afternoon. I've been hearing some good things about you.

Well, Fletcher has just been telling me what how much he thinks of you. [to Fletcher] Well, why don't you tell Mr. Allen? Well, what do you think of him?

[Defeated] He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard. A belligerent, old fart. A worthless, steaming pile of cow dung. [sighs] Figuratively speaking.

[Everyone in the board stares at Mr. Allen; after a moment of silence, Mr. Allen laughs; the rest of the board joins in the laughter]

Mr. Allen:
That's the funniest damn thing I've ever heard! You're a real card, Reede! I love a good roast! Do Simmons!

[points at Simmons] Simmons is old! He should've been outta the game years ago, but he can't stay home, 'cause he hates his wife! You've met her at the Christmas parties! She's the one that gets plastered and calls him a retard! [to another member of the board] And you, Tom! You're the biggest brownnose I've ever seen! You've got your head so far up Mr. Allen's ass, I can't tell where you end and he begins!

Mr. Allen:
[roars with laughter] Priceless!

[to another board member] You have bad breath caused by gingivitis! [to another member] You couldn't get a porn star off! [to yet another] Your hairpiece looks like something that was killed crossing the highway! I don't know whether to comb it or scrape it off with a shovel and bury it in lime! [points at five other members of the board one at a time] Loser! Idiot! Wimp! Degenerate! [at Miranda] SLUT! [Miranda is shocked]

Mr. Allen:
I like your style, Reede! [shakes hands with Fletcher] That's just what this stuffy company needs! A little irreverence!

GOOD! I'll see ya later, d*ckhead!

[Everyone else laughs]

Mr. Allen:
D*ckhead! Priceless!

[Fletcher pulls of a board member's hairpiece and sticks it on the wall, whoops like a native, then walks off as the laughter continues]

Mr. Allen:
[takes his seat] Keep your eye on that boy. "D*ckhead"!

[After Fletcher darts out of the meeting room, still laughing, he faints from exhaustion]

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    In which movie does this quote appear: "Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane." ?
    • A. Mission: Impossible
    • B. Blues Brothers
    • C. Shawshank Redemption
    • D. Die Hard