Tom Shadyac's 1997 comedy film "Liar Liar" had a light supernatural concept: Fletcher Reed, a typical Hollywood Workholic Dad (known in screenwriting circles as "reliable, clichéd character type #4") constantly lies to his family and clients in order to succeed in life. As a lawyer, lying is handy. As a father, however, lying gets him in trouble with his five-year-old son, Max (Justin Cooper). As such, the child makes a birthday wish, longing that his dad cannot lie for just one day. The wish comes true.
What follows is a comedic showcase for star Jim Carrey to put his talents for physical comedy on display. The actor hilariously mugs and thrashes about in agony as Fletcher's newfound truthfulness gets him in various amounts of trouble. In one case, he cannot lie to exonerate a dishonest client. In another, he says openly lascivious things to a woman on the elevator. He gets slapped in the face and even arrested for his comments.
"Liar Liar" is slick Hollywood pabulum, invented merely as a showcase vehicle for its superstar lead actor; Jim Carrey was one of the biggest stars in the world at the time. The film cost $45 million to make, with $20 million of that providing Carrey's salary (though another film would mark his biggest payday). The payday was worth it. "Liar Liar" made over $302 million worldwide.
"Liar Liar" was also a chance for director Shadyac to include a few jokes and Easter eggs, cracking wise at Carrey's career. Did you know, for instance, that Fire Marshal Bill, a character Carrey created for the hit sketch comedy series "In Living Color," has a cameo?
Fire Marshal Bill
One cannot overstate the popularity of "In Living Color." Keenan Ivory Wayans' sketch comedy program, which ran from 1990 to 1994, was meant as a diverse counterpoint to stodgy, older sketch comedy shows like "Saturday Night Live," and featured stranger, edgier humor. It also featured regular dance routines from the show's in-house troupe, the Fly Girls, and regular hip-hop music acts. Several notable characters emerged from "In Living Color," including Homey the Clown (Damon Wayans), Wanda (Jamie Foxx), and Fire Marshal Bill.
Fire Marshal Bill was a scarred and mentally damaged fire marshal who, when teaching others about fire safety, often did a great deal of bodily damage to himself. Undeterred by injury, his lessons would persist. His lessons also typically ended in fires and explosions. Fire Marshal Bill's upper lip had seemingly been burnt off, and Carrey played the part with his sizable front teeth jutting out. He was the only character to appear in all five seasons of the show.
At the end of "Liar Liar," Fletcher makes a mad dash to the airport to stop his son from being moved to Boston with his ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney). In so doing, he steals a wheeled boarding staircase vehicle and flees out onto an actual runway. This leads to his own injury. The following scene is the immediate aftermath of Fletcher's crimes, with the plane stopped and fire personnel surging in to help. Tierney, Cooper, and Cary Elwes stand next to each other in the fracas to talk to a police officer.
Look at the photo above. Behind the lead actors, one can see Jim Carrey -- in character as Fire Marshall Bill -- standing in the crowd. See it in action below too.
Funning On Jim
It seems that Carrey is having a wonderful time playing Fire Marshal Bill, his first time playing the role in three years. A look at the extras around him reveals that they are snickering and laughing at whatever he may be saying. While the Fire Marshall Bill character isn't wearing his signature hat, the jutted-out teeth, and demonstrative nodding are a dead giveaway. That's definitely Jim Carrey, and he's definitely playing Fire Marshal Bill.
Whether this was Shadyac's idea or Carrey's one cannot say, but it does seem that Shadyac wanted to prank Carrey at a different point in the film.
During one of the many trial scenes in "Liar Liar," Fletcher faces off against a lawyer named Dana (Emmy- and Tony-winning actress Swoosie Kurtz). In one moment, both lawyers lose their cool. When Dana raises an objection, Fletcher yells "You would!" Dana yells "Wimp!" Fletcher shoots back with "Hag!" It's a cute moment of comedic childishness.
In a post-film outtakes reel, after Fletcher yells "You would!," Kurtz yells back "Overactor!" Carrey tries to return with a "Jezebel!," but laughs too hard at the prank. Yes, Jim Carrey overacts. The crew laughs, all seemingly in on the joke. Kurtz laughingly points out that Tom Shadyac put her up to the insult. Carrey hugs her in good humor. "Oh no," he jokingly comments, "they're onto me."
"Liar Liar" is a puffball of a movie, but its screenplay functions better than it ought to. Plus, at only 88 minutes, it'll be over before you know it. It's no wonder it was a hit.
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The post Liar Liar Gave Jim Carrey a Second Sneaky Role That You Probably Missed appeared first on /Film.