Liar Liar: Special Edition (1997)

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Released 5-Mar-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
dts Trailer-Piano
Featurette-Bridging The Comedy Chasm
Audio Commentary-Tom Shadyac (Director)
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 82:51
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:31) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tom Shadyac
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jim Carrey
Maura Tierney
Jennifer Tilly
Swoosie Kurtz
Amanda Donohoe
Cary Elwes
Justin Cooper
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, outtakes play as the credits roll.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Liar Liar is one of a number of Universal films that were originally released under a distribution deal by Columbia Tristar back in the early days of DVD in Australia. That distribution deal has recently come to an end, necessitating the re-release of these films by Universal. In the case of Liar Liar, Universal have decided to go the extra distance and release a fully fledged special edition (the previous release was a virtual bare-bones effort, containing only a trailer, bios and some production notes).

    Liar Liar itself is notable for a pair of firsts. It was the first feature film to carry the logo of the Brian Grazer/Ron Howard production company Imagine Entertainment, and it was the first leading role for Jim Carrey in which he got to use his own hair. Okay, maybe they're not so notable after all, but they are at least interesting. One thing that is worth noting about this film is that it is one of Jim Carrey's funniest, and certainly the most accessible of his straight comedy efforts. The reason for the increased accessibility is that the character of compulsive liar Fletcher Reede is as close to reality as any of Carrey's comedic characters have ever come.

    Fletcher Reede is a lawyer at a big firm, and is a man who will do anything - including swearing to the most imposturous lies - to make his way further up the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, Fletcher's son Max (Justin Cooper) and ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney) have felt the side effects, and hardly ever get to see Fletcher. Seeing the disappointment in her son's eyes every time his father does not show up when he "promised" to, Audrey begins considering a move to Boston with boyfriend Jerry (Cary Elwes). When Fletcher doesn't show up for Max's birthday party however, Max makes a fateful birthday wish - that his dad can't lie for an entire day. By some twist of fate, the wish comes true, and Fletcher must make it through an entire day - including a court appearance - and win back his son and wife without telling even one lie.

    Liar Liar successfully avoids becoming a one-joke movie both by keeping the running time short (it clocks in at only 83 minutes), and by using almost a third of that time in character build-up prior to the principal comedic element of the wish. By varying the way in which Fletcher tells the truth, the comedy is also varied, keeping the movie both interesting and funny. The story is certainly Hollywood, but there is enough here to maintain interest, and the "heartfelt" moments are well restrained, and successful enough to invest the film with an emotional interest in addition to the comedy. This is certainly a comedy worth watching, and not just for Jim Carrey fans. Yes, his trademark faces, expressions, and brand of physical comedy are all present, but the more realistic base of the characters gives the film a far wider appeal. If you're looking for genuine laughs, then you could do much worse than Liar Liar.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer presented for Liar Liar is very good, and is just a fraction better than the previous transfer. Interestingly, when the original version of the disc was released, it was considered a reference quality transfer. The fact that now this transfer, which is good, but certainly not the best I have ever seen, is better than the original, goes to show exactly how far DVD quality has come since the inception of the format.

    Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The only real problem with this transfer is a slight lack of sharpness throughout. The image is just a little on the soft side, and although there is still more than enough detail present, the end result is something just a little softer than we know the format is capable of. There is a little grain, but it only becomes obvious very occasionally, such as at 31:39 and from 66:34 to 66:39. Shadow detail is also just a little down on what the format can deliver, but is still very good. There is no low level noise present.

    Colours are slightly muted, although this was also the case with the previous release (which at the time was considered to be very well represented), indicating that it is a source issue. Again, this issue is relatively minor, but in comparison to what other recent transfers offer, it is not quite equal.

    There are no compression artefacts at all in this transfer. There is some light aliasing present, and a few instances of more severe aliasing, such as on the vent from 17:11 to 17:15, and the grille from 34:10 to 34:16, but in general it is not a problem. There are a few film artefacts, such as at 17:02 and 79:34, but they are few and far between.

    The subtitles are mostly accurate, but do tend to abbreviate statements on a regular basis. In general, this does not affect the comedic impact of the dialogue, but it would still be preferable to see what was actually said.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 52:31 during Chapter 12. It is a very well placed layer change, taking place on a static screen with no audio, and is almost impossible to spot (I missed it the first time through).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a serviceable audio track that gets the job done without being spectacular.

    There are three audio tracks on this disc. Annoyingly, it is not possible to switch between tracks from within the movie, necessitating a visit to the audio setup menu each time. The tracks present are the original English dialogue available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 Kbps), and DTS 5.1 (at half bitrate), and an English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 192 Kbps).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. There is some minor distortion that appears occasionally, such as from 14:35 to 15:03, but it really is very minor, and never becomes distracting. Audio sync is generally good, although there are a few occasions, such as from 15:30 until the end of the scene, and at 74:34, where it slips out slightly.

    The score, credited to John Debney is well suited to the movie, if not all that original. It keeps pace with the rapid-fire changes in tone of the film, and is quite good at keeping the audience in the right frame of mind.

    Surround presence is, to be quite blunt, non-existent. There are a few occasions where the score will bring the surrounds whimpering to life for a short period of time, but in general they sit dormant for the length of the feature.

    The subwoofer provides some limited backup for the score, but apart from that has little to do.

    The DTS and Dolby Digital tracks are fairly evenly matched, as is really to be expected for a soundtrack that doesn't really tax the capabilities of most modern audio systems. The advantage, and it is slight, would have to go to the DTS track, which presents a slightly richer sound in relation to the Dolby Digital - but the difference is extremely minor.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced, static with animated intros, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Bridging The Comedy Chasm (16:08)

    Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this is essentially the "making of", but is a little different to the norm, taking a comic tack. Whether or not it works is going to come down to personal opinion (for what it's worth, I found it to be 15 minutes of my life I wish I could have had back) - but at least it's different.

Audio Commentary - Tom Shadyac (Director)

    This is a reasonable commentary track, as Shadyac talks enthusiastically and almost non-stop about his film. It does become a little self-indulgent at times, but is generally quite good. Unfortunately the tone in which it is presented is quite slow and serious - which does not make for an engaging listen.

Deleted Scene (3:53)

    Presented at 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this was the original opening to the movie, and features scenes that were used in the trailer.

Outtakes (1:34)

    Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, these outtakes are in addition to those that run over the end credits, and as those were chosen first, it is not surprising that these are not quite as funny.

Trailer (2:10)

    Presented at 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this is a very good trailer that effectively advertises the film.

Stills Galleries

    This is a very large collection of images associated with the movie, ranging from behind the scenes, to production, to advertising. If stills galleries are your thing, then you'll be in heaven.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is an interesting comparison, as there were no less than three versions of this movie released in Region 1. From what I can ascertain, only one of those is still available, being the most recent release of the "Collectors Edition". For reasons of simplicity, I will only include the "Collectors Edition" in the comparison, however for those who are interested, the other two versions of the movie are both bare-bones and full-frame, differentiated only by soundtrack - one had a DTS 5.1 track, the other a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     There really is nothing to choose between the two versions, so grab the one you can find cheapest. In comparison to the previous Region 4 title, there is no need to update if you already have this film on DVD, but if you were holding off (for three years?), then now is the time to grab it.

Summary

    Liar Liar is one of Jim Carrey's funniest comedies, and certainly his most accessible. It manages to work on both a comedic and emotional level at the same time, while remaining free from typical Hollywood sentimentality. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

    The video quality is very good, with only the fact that the transfer could have been a little better in a few areas (as opposed to anything overtly wrong with it) letting it down.

    The audio quality is serviceable, but this soundtrack won't so much as blow over a cardboard cut-out.

    The extras are reasonable, although certainly not worth a three year wait.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Friday, February 28, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-555K, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersRochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)

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The DVD Bits - Chris A
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))

Comments (Add)
NOT 16x9 enhanced? - Miklos (my stinkin' bio) REPLY POSTED