HD DVD Title: Liar Liar
Screen format: 1080P 1.85:1 VC-1 Encoded
First theatrical release: 21 March 1997
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Multiple, including Widescreen, fullscreen, DTS and Collector’s Editions
Director: Tom Shadyac
Starring: Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Jennifer Tilly, Swoosie Kurtz, Amanda Donohoe and Carey Elwes
Sound Formats: English & French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Length: 1 Hour 27 Minutes
Subtitles: English, French
Hotshot lawyer Fletcher Reed’s best secret is that he is among the world’s best liars, using this skill to get whatever his clients need, regardless of how deserving they are of actually winning. Fletcher’s lying isn’t without its consequences however, it has already caused his divorce to sweetheart Audrey (Tierney), and is threatening to drive Audrey to accept the marriage proposal from new boyfriend Jerry (Elwes). Worse, with the proposal comes the need for Audrey and son Max (Justin Cooper) to move with Jerry to Boston, and Fletcher pleads for her to reconsider.
Because of all the disappointments Fletcher has caused, Max makes a special wish on his birthday, that for just one day Fletcher cannot lie. When Max’s wish magically comes true, Fletcher is faced with the inability to present the arguments he needs to use to win the case that will determine if he makes partner or not, the divorce case of socialite hussy Samantha Cole (Tilly). Fletcher will need to survive this 24 hour curse, somehow using the truth and nothing but the truth to win the case and get back in the good graces of Audrey and Max.
Sound Quality: 3/5
The orchestral composition by John Debney is really the only noteworthy contribution audio wise. It’s whimsical and woodwind heavy, acting as a constant reflection of the on-screen activity. It’s not the most memorable score ever, but it’s fun and light hearted. It’s also mostly located to the front sound stage and light on the bass as well. The most raucous scenes of course get some of the most madcap music flowing around to the rears, and they do get the blood pumping a bit. There’s nothing too special about the rest of the sound mix, there’s the normal foley effects and again most of these are heavy in the front sound stage. All in all it’s decidedly low key and unassuming.
Visual Quality: 3/5
Similar to the audio presentation, visually this film is a bit average. While some scenes are heavily detailed and most have a pleasing color palette, there is quite a bit of grain, and there are pops, scratches and other artifacts that can be distracting. It’s not that it looks terrible, it just is quite obviously not as well cared for as other similar movies have been. Most scenes are sharp enough, but several have a bit of a processed look, with some ring edge enhancement though this was not too prevalent; when it was there it popped out and was noticeable. Those looking for a fun comedy won’t likely note these visual nitpicks, but for those who demand that ‘The look and sound of perfect’ live up to its name, this title doesn’t stand out.
Extra Features: 3/5
While the selection of extras included here are clearly shoveled off from the previous collector’s edition, they are a decent little batch. Leading off is a feature length commentary with director Shadyac which I skipped. The sole featurette is a behind the scenes look titled ‘The Comedy Chasm’, which features interviews mostly with Shadyac and Carrey and is both entertaining (if you like Carrey’s facial contortions), and informative about how Shadyac operates. There’s a single deleted scene which is very badly preserved and cut for good reason. There is a selection of outtakes which are not nearly as good as those shown during the end titles but still amusing. Finally the theatrical trailer is included, which is rare on HD disks these days. Again, an average collection but still generally positive.
Overall: 3/5 (not an average)
I’d rate Liar Liar probably second only to the original The Mask as far as comedic content in a Jim Carrey movie, and in general I really enjoy his brand of over the top, self deprecating humor, pratfalls and incredibly elastic facial manipulation. Liar Liar has all of these in spades, and the ‘Boardroom’ scene in which Fletcher lets his bosses know exactly what he thinks of them is among the best comedic five minutes in history. This transfer captures the film as good as any of the previous DVD versions have, but it definitely doesn’t really go beyond any of them to stand on its own. This is the classic textbook example of a catalog title being tossed from DVD to HD to try to get a re-buy without really being worthy of one. So, if you’ve got this film on prior editions there is no compelling reason to upgrade, but if you haven’t seen it already this would be the preferable version to get, if and only if the price was the same between the two.