So I watched this classic Jim Carrey movie last night, Liar Liar. I think I'd only seen it once before and had forgotten most of it. A few thoughts occur to me.
Jim Carrey is one of the great comedic talents of our age. Yes, I know he spent a lot of time mired in nothing more than bathroom humor and juvenile crudity (Ace Ventura), and in more recent years has been doing more dramatic roles. But, boy, in his prime he did some truly amazing comedic work. Liar Liar is one of them.
Carrey plays Fletcher, an attorney who, well, lies. All the time. His 5-year-old son Max makes a birthday wish that comes true: that his dad would go a whole day without telling a lie. The results are, simply, hilarious because he comes to realize just how much of his life has been built on untruths. Being forced to tell the truth just about ruins him completely.
Hilarious, yes. But there is something much deeper and profound going on with all this truth-telling. Fletcher's inability to lie serves as a sort of "revelation," a profound, absolute "disclosure of Truth" with a capital "T." The things that come out of his mouth not only reveal his own deepest, darkest thoughts about anyone and everyone, they turn out to condemn Fletcher himself. At one point he protests that his ex-wife is moving to Boston, taking Max with her, and he exclaims loudly: "But I'm a BAD FATHER!" He recoils in surprise, and then repeats, this time with greater realization and clarity: "I'm a bad father!"
Telling the truth is the revelation of the moral law to Fletcher, allowing him to see himself as he really is: that his whole life, personal, professional, and everything in between is built on lies. This is what the moral law does: holds a mirror up to us to show us what we're really like. Of course, in the movie Fletcher, once having this realization, has no trouble quickly changing his ways and becoming an honest man. No need for Jesus here! Self-help moralism is the worldview of the movie, but it is nevertheless built on some very strong elements of truth: how far short we fall from the moral standard and how damaging this is to other people.
The last thing I really appreciated about the film is that it had a strong sense of the importance of family. The writer was not content to just have dad reform his ways; a full restoration of the relationships involves a reunification of the entire nuclear family, mom and dad with son, husband and wife with each other.
All in all, it was a really good comedy with some very profound and serious undertones.