Hello, Spongey here.
It’s now June so I think it’s time for our first review of a bad 2017 film. There isn’t quite as muc h to pick from but I think a good one to start us out with. Also, Monster Trucks wasn’t quite review-able enough.
We’re doing a Direct to Video film because it was on Netflix so it’s easy to bring it up for the 4 days I work on these reviews. But first a little history. In the early 2000’s, kids movies had this feel that made some of them perfect snark materiel.
We’ve looked at Clockstoppers and Max Keeble’s Big Move, and there was one I’ve always wanted to cover to finish the trilogy: Big Fat Liar. I saw it as a kid because it was the best Dad could find at the time.
It was about this kid that lied a lot, and due to a wacky misunderstanding, a sleazy Director takes the story from his class reports and turns it into a movie. No one believes the kid so he teams up with Amanda Bynes to get revenge.
I wanted to re-watch it for this review but I couldn’t find it in time so I couldn’t review it on it’s own anyway. Guess I’m glad…this thing exists. From what I can gather, the orginal was pretty dumb as per usual for the genre, but it did some kind of charm that gave it a sort of cult following.
Also, it was written by Dan Schneider. Yes, that one. Now the whole plot being about torturing someone makes sense, eh?
Anyone, the reason I’m talking about it now is that for some baffling reason, a couple months ago saw the release of a SEQUEL to a movie from 2002 so one who wasn’t a kid at the time remembers.
There’s a trend I’ve noticed of Direct to Video sequels to somewhat older movies, and they usually have nothing to do with the originals. Jingle all the Way 2, Kindergarten Cop 2 and now this.
I have no idea why they think people will watch sequels to films that have nothing to do with the previous film, but they keep making them. Hell, this one has the same writer as Kindergarten Cop 2!
This movie is so In Name Only that I will just call it what it is: A remake. I don’t care if the clapper thing in the blooper reel calls it “Big Fat Liar 2”, it’s a freaking remake! Now, there can be good remakes that respect the original materiel while adding to it, so this wasn’t quite DOA.
Nah, I waited to watch it before confirming that it sucks. It’s not the worst but it’s still bad and I needed a simple one for the month so I picked it. I mentioned the writer, so I’ll move on to the director…Ron Oliver.
Oh come on, Mostly Ghostly 3, now this?! What happened to to ya man? This makes Mostly Ghostly 3 look amazing by compassion! Ah well.
What exactly makes this pointless remake so mediocre? Am I lying about it’s lack of quality? Heck no, let’s see why it’s bad.
This, is Bigger Fatter Liar
The movie opens with the protagonist waking up, as he lies to his Dad about being fully ready for school. I’d comment on this but I’m distracted by one of the most annoying opening credits ever.
How can credits be annoying? Well, instead of having the names just appear like a normal movie, they come with these little animations and annoying sound effects. Most of them are video game sound effects because in this version it’s a game that gets taken, but it’s still really stupid to make your opening credits THIS distracting.
There’s nothing like this in the rest of the movie, so it’s not even a “Stylistic” choice. It’s just annoying. I’ve wasted a paragraph on the freaking credits!
Anyway, instead of Frankie Muniz we have that one guy from Best Friends Whenever. We already see he’s a big liar and his Dad is very aware of this. He sets up a weird thing no kid could create, that puts his clothes on for him quickly so his Dad believes he was ready.
That’s not really lying, he actually was ready, he just did it quickly. He tells his Dad he needs money for a class trip even though he also said so last week. Despite that, he’s Dad believes him because he’s an idiot.
Seriously, he JUST said he was skeptical on that previous lie for to experience but this is fine?
Kevin gets to school and we see he put a Handicapped Sign over a Visitor Parking sign in order to get a space in the parking lot. Well, he’s not instantly unlikable at all. He’s late and tells the teacher he was doing a top secret thing with the principal.
Instead of telling him that’s a load of shit, she just tells him to sit down. Is anyone going to act like a normal person here? That leads me to one big problem with the movie, Kevin himself. He’s supposed to kind of a likable jerk, but he really isn’t.
I can’t blame Ricky Gacia too much but he plays him like this really unlikable douche. His lies are never believable and he just puts on this face that makes you want to punch him immediately. This is more of a directing problem but it still effects the movie.
I get that the characters know he’s a liar before hand and aren’t supposed to really buy into it but he doesn’t even seem like he was good at it ever, he just does it a lot. His Dad bought a clear lie earlier, and he knows Kevin better than anyone from what I can see!
We’re only 3 minutes in.
“One of these days you’re gonna get caught, you know”
That was from his female friend/”love interest”, played by Jodelle Ferland. She’s decent here but you never buy their friendship, at all. He’s a lying jerk, she isn’t. Next!
Kevin turned in a fake report he didn’t write and she thankfully suspects something and wants to call Dad to confirm he did it. More on that in a sec. Kevin orders Pizza that arrives at lunch and okay, this one I don’t get.
He’s not lying, he’s just being a jerk. And what school just allows this at all? A pizza guy shows up and they’re just like, okay, nothing wrong here. God, so many little things wrong in the first 5 minutes!
NOW IT’S TIME FOR YOUR BAD EXPOSITION OF THE DAY:
“How long have we been friends?”
“Since 3rd grade”
THIS HAS BEEN YOUR BAD EXPOSITION OF THE DAY.
Teacher calls Dad and Kevin somewhat makes it so the call goes to him and he uses a voice changing thing to pretend to be his Dad. The voice sounds fake as hell and at first it seems she bought it but a bit lit she reveals she’s not an idiot and calls Kevin up to the classroom along with Dad.
So there, we have one smart character. ONE.
He’s given one day to do the assignment or it’s Summer School. Also, he’s grounded for a month meaning no internet and thus no way to actually do it. He brings this up (and we all know how I feel about pointing out your problems) but they don’t say, plop him in a Library forcing to do this the old fashioned way.
Kevin does an idea, create a Video Game. Even though he’s shown no interest in gaming before this, at least not enough to make one. Needless to say, this movie knows as much about gaming as Game Shakers does.
The next day, he wakes a tad late and sees they put thingys on his car as he is grounded from that. Dad is not home meaning he has no way to get to school. And spoilers, him having to bike causes him to bump into a guy that steals his assignment, which not only makes him late but also assignment less.
Meaning this entire plot is Dad’s fault. Great going, father of the year!
We finally meet our villain, Mr Wolf, played by Barry Bostwick, to fulfill our wasted talent qouta. He’s some sort of executive for a game company, and he’s a jerk so he works for INSERT COMPANY YOU HATE HERE.
Kevin randomly takes his assignment just to call himself a genius and this makes him bump into Mr Wolf. Did I mention everyone is an idiot?
“I think I broke my tibia”
“You’re tibia’s in your leg”
Okay, that was funny, if only for Bostwick’s delivery. Also, Kevin is still really likable. By the way, Kevin’s last name is Sheppard, and I said, this guy is Mr Wolf. Sheppard. Wolf. Yeah, it’s as clever as it was in the original.
Long story short, he gets Wolf to give him a ride and he ends up looking at his game idea. The game is called Big Fat Liar. Oh come on, you couldn’t even call it what you’re naming your remake?!
One small peek at like two pages, and he kicks Kevin out, stealing the game. In the original, he leaves his work in the limo and Wolf actually reads it before deciding to take it and there he has a reason because his career is struggling.
Here, he does it after a small peak and it’s because he’s just an asshole. It’s a small thing but still. And yes, this is the exact same story as the original but made worse by dumb little details that make the whole thing just hard to swallow.
And going by just the trailers, my memory, and the Wiikipedia summary, I can tell they copied almost every plot point. I mean, I haven’t seen someone lazily rehash Dan Schneider’s materiel for the sake of adding games to it since, of course, Henry Danger.
Anyway, Kevin tells the teacher what happened she doesn’t believe him. Can’t blame her, really. She says “Enjoy Summer school” and we cut to it and it’s shot in a weird way to of course make it look as boring as possible, but I thought this was a dream sequence at first because of how not realistic this looked.
Nope, it’s real. Just simply bad editing.
It’s just a bunch of kids at these ancient computers that Kevin is able to hack in order to contact his friend. Why not. I suppose it’s been a little while since the previous scene as Wolf has put out a teaser for a game called Big Fat Liar.
It’s only a teaser so maybe he hasn’t made the game but still, I have no idea how far ahead we’ve jumped. Doesn’t matter but I’m a nitpicker sometimes. Kevin tells Dad about this but of course, does not believe him.
So naturally, he leaves for business for a few days leaving his lying son at home where he surely won’t do anything wrong. If I had more on my desk, I’d be banging my head on it. Actually I still wouldn’t, that would hurt.
He gives Kevin a credit card saying it’s for emergencies only. HOW ARE YOU SO STUPID?! Oh and he clunkily reveals the Mom is dead. It adds a lot.
With that, Kevin and female friend are off to confront Larry Wolf about his stolen game. As I said, exact same plot only worse.
But as usual I must poke holes in logic; How the ever loving fuck is Kevin just skipping Summer School without anyone noticing? His Dad is gone, so he wouldn’t know either way but they don’t cover up that part.
Kevin just travels hundred of miles off his Dad’s credit card and no one notices?! He has the friend tell her parents she’s going to Yoga Camp and somehow they don’t follow her closely enough to know she’s sneaking off some place else.
Every single part of the set up is contrived as all hell. Wow.
They arrive at Wolf’s company and there is one kind of funny part with the guy at the desk who won’t take any of their crap. It’s amusing how the kids thought just asking for a meeting would work.
Kevin disguises as a pizza guy which works somehow. We see looking at the game which for some reason is called Bigger Fatter Liar. Too late to change your mind, movie. The game keeps crashing because that’s what happens when you create an idea a kid made.
We get more insight into Wolf’s “character” as he goes on about how we went up the ladder in business and hates video games and yada yada. To be fair, Barry Bostwick one of the few actors that seems to be trying, at least.
Kevin has to deal with the secretary but through convulsed means he has the female friend use that voice changer thing to pretend some guy she dated that they find out about through social media stalking.
You know the drill, this makes no sense (the way they did this kind of thing in Captain Underpants made more sense), it can’t happen, and these kids are unlikable. Also, her name is Penny Wise. Huh.
They get to Wolf and ask him to tell Dad the truth. Yeah, they don’t want money or credit, just that. From their perspective, I get it.
“I came up with Big Fat Liar and I am never going to admit otherwise”
You know, a movie about someone ripping off an idea that happens to be a ripoff of another film while calling itself a sequel is the ultimate irony.
The two are of course thrown out but through this film’s trademark “This shouldn’t be possible” powers, Kevin taps into Wolf’s phone and gets access to everything.
“What moron keeps his credit card numbers in his phone?”
What do I keep saying about pointing out your problems?! By the way, the “Hero” is officially less likable than the villain, good job.
They pretend to be Wolf’s kids so they actually use the credit card and people buy it because….well you know by now. We then get a montage set to a forgettable piece, of them just doing stuff.
It goes without saying that the original did this exact same thing. Sigh.
Becca (she is finally named…through Netflix captions) rightfully feels bad but Kevin says it’s fine because Larry happens to be a jerk. Yeah, it’s still bad. After a very quick bonding scene we move on with the stupid.
The kids get a limo and the driver happens to have worked with Larry and he was screwed over by him. That means he wants in on their plan to screw him over big time. I’m starting to realize this movie pretty much has the same two problems: Odd morality, and contrivances. And also things that make no sense but two sounded better.
Those things get…better in the mid section but even worse in the climax, oh boy.
“Perfect time to drop by his house for a visit”
“And then we kill him”
They go to his house for their next step.
“We should tourch it”
Okay, that’s your cue to ditch the crazy limo driver. Then we get…this part.
“He’s downloaded every episode of My Little Pony”
“Even the Christmas special?’ ….What, it’s a really good show”
…Normally I’d cringe at the pathetic MLP reference but…why did he ask if even had the “Christmas special” if A. it’s just a normal episode for FIM and B. There’s 3 of them! Which one do you mean?!
It’s a small thing but it’s kind of clear they actually didn’t know anything about the show, just saying.
Long story short, they find a way to make his face white. Hey, that’s nothing like how they made him blue in the original. I mean, here it’s only his face with his hair now being red, which makes less effective and thus less funny, but still, totally original~
By the way, before we deeper, I should mentioned that Wolf NEVER calls the cops or anything like that. He has evidence the kid did something to him (Kevin write “Big Fat Liar” on his mirror for some reason) but Kevin has no evidence of what Wolf did. Wolf has enough power to just get rid of the kid, no questions asked.
But he doesn’t do it because movie.
Remember that joke in the original where they make the radio play the maddeningly catchy song? They do a joke that’s nothing like it. This time it’s a generic metal tune! So original. On the road, someone gets pissed at Wolf for…playing music loudly and intentionally backs his car into Wolf’s.
Why is the villain the more likable of these two people?
I’d say call a cop but a cop sees Larry and assumes he’s a criminal…for some reason. It turns out the kids planted blueprints for a bank and a fake gun in his car which does not help Larry’s case.
To recap, the villain stole an idea and claimed it as his own. The heroes planted a fake gun and made him look like a criminal. Which of these two seems the most unlikable to you? I mean seriously, the latter is pretty much a felony.
I’m not going to act like Wolf doesn’t deserve some punishment but maybe do it in a way that makes your main characters MORE likable than him, not less?
Kevin and Rebecca watch this and they have a whole 5 seconds of discussing lying and how it’s kind of bad. So deep. That’s as deep as Kevin’s development goes, by the way.
Sure, he’s got this forced backstory about a Dead Mom but it feels just that: Forced. They should have foreshadowed this early on, or went deeper into it. Giving him a reason for doing this is fine, but it’s poorly handled and does not really make him more likable.
Nice try, but no dice.
Back with Wiolf, we get another forced and pointless scene with him at a bar that acts hostile to him because of his make up. Larry jumps into speech about how “this is America” and what the hell is even going on?
It’s another part of his torture, making him think this bar is where his meeting is but my god, is it beyond stupid. It only serves to have him finally find out the kids did this and it’s convenient crowd happens to hate Larry or there’d be enough witness to truthfully say the kids deserve to be locked up.
Also, this scene is never mentioned again, big lipped alligator moment, yada yada.
Wolf finally gets to his meeting with Mr. Highcroft.
“I’m here to see Big Fat Liar”
Same here but I ain’t getting it. The game however still won’t work even after professions had a crack at it and never told Larry. I will say that something called Bigger Fatter Liar automatically crashing as soon at it starts up is quite fitting.
So now Mr Highcroft is pissed and Wolf needs to fix that game. The next torture scene has them putting Ghost Peppers in his drink which he takes a sip of during a TV Interview. I’d complain about the cruelty but it’s just boring at this point.
Unless Barry Bostwick making weird noises until he screams for water is hilarious to you. It…almost is, but the execution just makes it…stupid.
“Serves you right, Wolf”
Kevin is just getting scary at this point.
Not only is Larry in great discomfort, but everyone thinks he’s crazy, the game isn’t fixed and his credit card has been declined. I want to feel bad for him just to spite the movie but he’s an actual asshole so I have no one to root for.
The only thing he cares about is the game so he asks Kevin to help. I’m gonna just skip the crap and sum this up: The kids trust him for some odd reason on the off change he might keep his bargain.
But shock of all shockers, he doesn’t and now he has a finished game, all because Kevin trusted an asshole And that entire montage was entirely pointless. Seriously, him helping Wolf was the game was just pure padding.
We didn’t need more evidence that Larry is an asshole that Kevin hates, just saying.
“All you really are is a Big Fat Liar”
So are you so maybe he’s a…Bigger Fatter Liar?
I’m not sorry.
Kevin thinks it’s time to just give up.
“But the only he did was by lying”
No, he won because you were dumb enough to trust him.
“I don’t want to lie anymore”
Hey a vain attempt at development. Too bad your problem is being a cruel asshole, and not just lying.
They are about to leave when that security shows up and wants in on some payback. After a quick line, Kevin changes his mind and wants to finally get Larry to tell the truth. Honestly, I’m on the side of saying just cut your loses and go home before you get into even bigger trouble.
They somehow get Wolf into a limo driven by that crazy driver who was willingly to kill him earlier. He drives Wolf around recklessly and doing things that could very well cause tons of damage in some way. Which is even more illegal than what Wolf ever did.
He stops in the middle of train tracks, or at least a place where is train is coming just as it about to come and he gets out leaving Larry there. Just as I whine about this, it turns out this is all one big convoluted set they made using some tech, that made it look like all this was happening when it was not.
What should I be mad at first, the fact they had the time to set this up at all, or the fact that made him think he was going to DIE? The latter. Like what the actual fuck.
I couldn’t believe this was happening when I first saw it but just…wow. Kevin has done some bad things in this movie but just…yikes, this is pretty despicable. If it was funnier maybe this would be fine but nope.
The icing on the cake? He made Wolf he was dying when he was not. Hmm, what’s the word for doing the opposite of the truth? Can’t put my finger on it…
Anyway, instead of just ending there, since most people would shut this thing off, we get a chase scent that is nowhere near as cool as the one in the original. They end up at Wolf’s presentation thing and as soon as he sees this, he acts like it’s all normal and he didn’t just tackle a kid on stage.
But of course, instead of the game, it shows footage of him being a weird asshole. Not even going to ask how they got it because I don’t even care anymore. After the train scene this feels kind of anti climatic.
With that, Larry Wolf is fired and thrown out. Yay no one cares. And also everyone knows Big Fat Liar was Shawn Lev-i mean Kevin’s idea, and he presents it. You know, this meant to be a phone game so why the fuss over it?
The again Angry Birds got a movie so whatever.
Then in another forced turn, Dad shows up because Becca called off screen. This is so we can have our moment with him now instead of waiting. Kevin apologizes, Daddy says he’s proud, yada yada yada.
It’s a reaaaly short bit though, as they are cut off by Kevin addressing his clapping fans, then it just cuts to the next scene. Can’t have anything too meaningful in this shit.
Back at home Dad only just now finds out the credit card money he blew, but Kevin just gives him his royalty check. Hooray for no consequences!
And the final proper scene is of Wolf at his new job, just like the original. But he’s a mime this time so it’s totally not a rip off!
My thoughts exactly. Roll credits, screw the bloopers. (Oh and another bad rushed ending that makes the problems worse I DON’T CARE)
Yeah, this was bad. But I’m actually conflicted on exactly HOW bad it is. Yes, I bitch and moaned the whole time but that’s the thing. On a critical level, this pretty much is all bad. But as a viewing experience, it was just simply bad.
Not horrible, just boring and stupid. But when having to recap it, man did I get sick of this one. It’s all the same crap over and over again. Trust me, anyone would get sick of all the cruelty lack of any sense of reality, and lack of comedy.
That’s the thing if this had even decent Comedy, maybe I could forgive it. If it had a sense of style or fun to it, perhaps I could get into the wacky stuff happening all over this film. But instead, it’s very dry with all the jokes being lame or so lame there may as well not even be jokes.
The actors try but don’t really go beyond “You Tried”. Barry Bostwick has amusing delivery I suppose. Ricky Garcia just helps make Kevin even more unlikable, although this is a directing/writing problem.
I understand this movie isn’t striving to be totally realistic or morally right and that’s fine. However, if I can’t get into it for whatever reason, all of this is going to bother me more. Since the comedy fails and the characters are just there, I can’t help but think how awful everything is.
Besides, if your movie has a villain, make sure he’s not morally better than the hero. Sometimes people need to go down a pet, especially if he’s as bad as Wolf is in both versions, but in this one Kevin comes across as worse as he does various bad things with no charm to any of it. Heck, he more or less gets no consequences for using his Dad’s credit card to up and leave and get revenge.
The character himself just as no charm and his development is so forced it comes across as just…hollow. The no lying moral is also just kind of there. There’s a bunch of stuff and also lying is bad.
The story itself is of course a complete copy of the original and every change is either pointless or makes it worse. There was no reason to remake the movie but if you had, put more effort into than this. There are points where they recycle the exact same joke or scene!
Even on it’s own the film just fails. The story is just bland with a lot of cliches and the the main draw is done in an unpleasant way. Honestly, the problems I mentioned are why the movie is bad.
Yeah, the other things aren’t good but if there was charm/wit and a likable lead, maybe it could be a guilty pleasure. But thanks to the lack of charm, it becomes a mess. Nothing makes any sense and I can forgive some minor things like kids being able to set up a lot of this because hey, suspense of disbelief.
But the plot itself only moves forward because all the characters are morons, which is just bad writing. It leads to extremely stupid scenes like the car scene and the bar scene right after that.
Overall, as remake it fails because it just repeats the original with none of the charm, and on it’s own it’s a mess with lame humor, no logic to speak of, and a lead too unlikable to care about.
It’s just a bad movie, not worth your time. If you haven’t seen the original, just watch that. It ain’t great but it’s way better than this. That’s all I have to say about that.
Next time, we’ve got a ripe one. All I will say is….it;s bad.