That Moment in Big Fat Liar: Swimming in the Deep Blue
Why The Blue Man Works So Well
Big Fat Liar is a 2002 comedy about a high school kid who goes to extremes to get back what a Hollywood producer stole and refuses to give back.
Notorious liar and small time con man Jason Shepherd (Frankie Muniz) is a 14-year-old troublemaker who one day slams his bicycle into the limousine of one Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti), a big time Hollywood producer. Why did Jason crash into Marty? He was trying to deliver a creative writing assignment before a 6pm deadline or completely fail. Marty offers a ride and the two confess that both are liars though Marty has made it a lucrative career. When Jason accidentally leaves behind his paper, titled Big Fat Liar, Marty attempts to get it back, but after seeing how good it is, takes it for his own and makes a movie about it, without telling Jason. Whoops. He’s gonna wish he had.
Jason’s best friend is Kaylee (Amanda Bynes) and the two concoct a plan to fly out to LA and settle this deal with Wolf, and with trickery, manage to make their way right into his office. Sneaky as Wolf is though, he convinced them that, sure, he’ll give back the story, but nope, that’s a lie, and instead, burns and has them kicked out. After serendipitously catching the favor of limo driver Frank Jackson (Donald Faison), they learn where Wolf lives and put into action a plan of ridiculous revenge that is so maliciously despicable it’d turn your skin blue. Oh wait.
Making good use of blue and orange dye, they sneak onto Wolf’s lavish property and await to strike. And here’s where the good stuff happens in a movie that, let’s face it, is pretty not so good. Paul Giamatti–and I could just about end it right here be done with explaining why this moment works–absolutely, flat out saves Big Fat Liar. It’s an early film role for the gifted character actor but he sells the part like a used car salesman on the last day of going out of business bonanza and all that’s left on the lot is circus clown car.
Wolf is a detestable guy but the kind of detestable guy you wanna keep watching no matter what he’s doing. This moment begins with him waking up in his oversized bed, and since this is a kid’s movie, he not sandwiched between two big-bosomed bimbos as you might expect, but rather next to a stuffed Mr. Funnybones monkey doll, the only thing Wolf seems to have any external care for.
Naturally, he slaps it around a bit (hilariously) and then, with due excess of immodesty and flagrant joy of affluence, struts to his in-ground pool in circulation-busting plaid swim trunks, flailing about in a limb writhing dance jig to Duran Duran‘s Hungry Like A Wolf that will burn the backsides of your retinas.
What he doesn’t know but we do is that Jason and Kaylee have already dumped a sizable bottle of “industrial strength'” (ha) Blue Dye #30 into the water. And whats more, while Wolf is in that water, have snuck into the house and put orange dye in his shampoo. For good measure, just to keep it more interesting, Jason has further laced the tip of Marty’s phone ear-jack with SuperGlue. What follows is a well-earned and very funny bit that leaves Marty more blue than a Smurf holding his breath and a dome wreathed in fuzzy orange.
It’s not like Wolf doesn’t deserve it, and this is where the film succeeds most in its ludicrous plot, making Marty a guy that we don’t feel the slightest bit bad for when everything crumbles around him. Outsmarted by a couple of kids, he suffers for his hubris and pays dearly for his thievery and trickery. Sure, the movie’s awful, I mean almost unwatchable as it goes for the stupid in a leap-off-a-cliff-and-hope-you-land-in-cake frosting way, failing with just about every bit, but Giamatti single-handedly keeps it fun, and in this moment, creates one of the most memorable screen appearances of his career. Hungry!