Big Fat Liar

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Big Fat Liar
Big Fat Liar film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Shawn Levy
Produced by Shawn Levy
Brian Robbins
Mike Tollin
Marie Cantin
Screenplay by Dan Schneider
Story by Dan Schneider
Brian Robbins
Starring Frankie Muniz
Paul Giamatti
Amanda Bynes
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography Jonathan Brown
Edited by Stuart Pappé
Kimberly Ray
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • February 8, 2002 (2002-02-08)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $52,970,014

Big Fat Liar is a 2002 American teen comedy film directed by Shawn Levy, written and produced by Dan Schneider and Brian Robbins, and starring Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, and Amanda Bynes. The film involves a 14-year-old pathological liar named Jason Shepherd (Muniz), whose creative writing assignment is stolen by an arrogant Hollywood producer named Marty Wolf (Giamatti), who plans to use it to make the fictional film of the same name.


Jason Shepherd (Frankie Muniz) is a 14-year-old chronic liar living in the fictional town of Greenbury, Michigan who is constantly deceiving and misleading his way out of trouble. When his English teacher, Ms. Phyllis Caldwell (Sandra Oh), assigns his class a creative writing assignment one day, Jason does not complete it and attempts to escape writing his 1000-word essay by making up a lie, but he gets caught. His parents, Harry and Carol (Michael Bryan French and Christine Tucci), are later called into school, and Ms. Caldwell tells him that if he cannot bring her a handwritten story to the community college by 6 p.m., she will not consider it a valid contribution, and he will fail 8th-grade English and have to go to summer school. After remembering his father Harry telling him that he appears to be very talented at making up stories, Jason finally writes a story entitled Big Fat Liar, based on his experiences of constantly lying all the time. After finishing his story, Jason rides his older sister Janie's (Alex Breckenridge) old bicycle and accidentally collides with the limousine of arrogant Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti), whom Jason blackmails into giving him a ride to school. During his ride, Wolf reveals to Jason that he is also a liar and con man, though a more professional one than Jason. When the limousine reaches the college, Jason hastens out of the limousine, not realizing that he has left his story behind. Wolf initially attempts to give it back to Jason, but when he sees that it is excellent, he decides to keep it for himself.

Jason realizes his paper is missing, and neither his parents nor Ms. Caldwell believe him and he is sent to summer school. Later, after a horrible and disgusting first day at summer school, Jason and his best friend, Kaylee (Amanda Bynes), find out that Wolf has plagiarized his paper and is turning it into a film. Using their savings, Jason and Kaylee fly to Los Angeles to confront Wolf, leaving local bully Bret Callaway (Taran Killam) to attend to Kaylee's absent-minded grandmother Pearl after Jason bribes him by promising to do his summer school homework for him. Upon their arrival, they trick limo driver and struggling actor Frank Jackson (Donald Faison) into giving them a ride to Wolf's studio, where Jason tricks its receptionist, Astrid Barker (Rebecca Corry), into letting him speak with Wolf. Jason sneaks into Wolf's office to tell him to call his dad and tell him that he stole the story from Jason, but instead Wolf "accidentally" burns Jason's paper and removes him and Kaylee from his office. Angered, Jason and Kaylee plan to inconvenience Wolf until he admits to having stolen Big Fat Liar. Frank, having discovered their true identities, joins them in their plan, as he has had a troubled history with Wolf. After gathering information about Wolf's abusive treatment of his employees, Jason and Kaylee sabotage Wolf by going as far as dyeing his skin blue and his hair orange; sending him to a child's birthday party, where he is mistaken for a clown and beaten up by the party-goers, and modifying the controls to his car.

These pranks cause Wolf to miss his appointment with his boss and the president of Universal Pictures, Marcus "Marc" Duncan (Russell Hornsby). After another fictional film, Whitaker and Fowl, proves to be a critical and box-office failure, Duncan loses confidence in Wolf and threatens to pull production for Big Fat Liar. Jason approaches Wolf and agrees to help in exchange for his confession to having stolen the story. Guided by Jason, Wolf makes a successful presentation which convinces Duncan's wife, Shandra (Chris Ott), to green-light Big Fat Liar, but Duncan warns Wolf that any mistakes will cause Universal to pull funding for it and end his career. However, Wolf betrays Jason again and kicks him and Kaylee out from their hiding place. Jason and Kaylee are told by Rocko Malone (Don Yesso), the head of security for Wolf's production company, Marty Wolf Pictures, that they will be forced out from Hollywood and sent back to their hometown in disgrace, while the incidents they caused will be covered up.

About to give up on exposing Wolf, Jason prepares to face permanent humiliation and disbelief back home when Wolf's assistant, Monty Kirkham (Amanda Detmer), appears. Having grown tired of Wolf's abuse, she decides to help Jason and Kaylee to expose him. With her help, Jason and Kaylee rally all of Wolf's co-workers and employees and devise a plan to stop him once and for all. As Wolf heads to the studio to begin shooting, many of his employees cause him to be late through multiple mishaps. As Wolf finally arrives to the studio, he witnesses Jason kidnapping his stuffed monkey, Mr. Funny-Bones. After a chase across the studio, Wolf is tricked into confessing that he stole Jason's story while he is childishly bragging about his supposed victory over Jason, saying that he will never tell the truth, and Duncan, disgusted that Wolf would steal from a young boy, immediately fires him from Universal due to his actions. Jason thanks Wolf for teaching him the importance of telling the truth. After escaping from Wolf and reuniting with his parents, Jason finally re-establishes his trust with them.

In the epilogue, Universal later reproduces Big Fat Liar, utilizing the talents and skills of all those whom Wolf had abused, and the film is released in theaters, with Jason being credited during the closing credits for having written the original story. Meanwhile, Wolf, having been stripped of his career, declares bankruptcy and begins his new job as a clown, where he is kicked in the testicles by Darren, the birthday boy and the son of The Masher (Brian Turk), a monster truck driver whom he had earlier insulted.


  • Frankie Muniz as Jason Shepherd, a 14-year-old pathological liar and slacker who, despite his slacker personality, is actually very intelligent
  • Paul Giamatti as Marty Wolf, an arrogant Hollywood producer and compulsive liar who, unlike Jason, does not care how his lies affect other people
  • Amanda Bynes as Kaylee, Jason's best friend
  • Donald Faison as Frank Jackson, a limo driver and struggling actor who helps Jason and Kaylee in their mission to get Wolf to admit the truth
  • Russell Hornsby as Marcus "Marc" Duncan, Wolf's boss and president of Universal Studios
  • Amanda Detmer as Monty Kirkham, Wolf's long suffering assistant
  • Michael Bryan French and Christine Tucci as Harry and Carol Shepherd, Jason's parents
  • Sandra Oh as Ms. Phyllis Caldwell, Jason's English teacher
  • Alex Breckenridge as Janie Shepherd, Jason's irresponsible older sister
  • Rebecca Corry as Astrid Barker, the dog-loving receptionist at the Wolf Pictures office
  • Jaleel White as Himself - often called Urkel
  • Lee Majors as Vince, an aging but nevertheless qualified stunt director
  • Sean O'Bryan as Leo
  • Amy Hill as Jocelyn Davis
  • John Cho as Dustin 'Dusty' Wong, the director
  • Taran Killam as Bret Callaway. He is a skateboard punk who consistently bullies Jason, and also has a crush on Kaylee.
  • Jake Minor as Aaron
  • Kyle Swann as Brett
  • Sparkle as Grandma Pearl, Kaylee's senile grandmother
  • Chris Ott as Shandra Duncan, Duncan's wife
  • Kenan Thompson, Dustin Diamond, Shawn Levy, Corinne Reilly, and Bart Myer as Wolf party guests
  • Brian Turk as The Masher, a monster truck driver
  • John Gatins as George, a tow truck driver
  • Don Yesso as Rocko Malone


This movie was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood, the Flash Flood set and Los Angeles International Airport, as well as in Glendale, Monrovia, Pasadena and Whittier, California.


No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Come on Come on"   Smash Mouth 2:33
2. "Conant Gardens"   Slum Village 3:03
3. "Me Myself and I"   Jive Jones  
4. "I Wish"   Hairbrain 3:11
5. "Eye of the Tiger"   Survivor 4:29
6. "Hungry Like the Wolf"   Duran Duran 3:41
7. "Blue (Da Ba Dee)"   Eiffel 65 4:40
8. "Diablo"   Triple Seven  
9. "Disco Inferno"   The Trammps 10:54
10. "Party Time"   The Grand Skeem 3:32
11. "Backlash"   The Grand Skeem  
12. "Where ya at"   The Grand Skeem  
13. "Mind Blow"   Zion-1  
14. "Right Here Right Now"   Fatboy Slim  
15. "Move It Like This"   Baha Men 3:51


Big Fat Liar received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 43%, based on 92 reviews, with the site's consensus stating "Though there's nothing that offensive about Big Fat Liar, it is filled with Hollywood cliches and cartoonish slapstick, making it strictly for kids."[1] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 36 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally negative reviews".[2]

On the positive side, Ebert and Roeper gave the film "Two Thumbs Up". Some critics praised the film as energetic and witty; others called it dull and formulaic. Critic David Palmer gave the film a 7/10, stating that it is a fun movie for people who love the behind the scenes of making movies, and "not awful considering it's a kids film".

Box office[edit]

Big Fat Liar grossed $11.6 million in its opening weekend, finishing in second behind Collateral Damage ($15.1 million). The movie would go on to gross $48.4 million domestically and $4.6 million in other countries for a total of $52.97 million,[citation needed] more than tripling the $15 million budget.


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