Big Fat Liar

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Big Fat Liar
Big Fat Liar film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byShawn Levy
Screenplay byDan Schneider
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyJonathan Brown
Edited by
  • Stuart Pappé
  • Kimberly Ray
Music byChristophe Beck
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • February 8, 2002 (2002-02-08)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$53 million[1]

Big Fat Liar is a 2002 American comedy film, directed by Shawn Levy, adapted by Dan Schneider from a story by Schneider and Brian Robbins, and starring Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, Amanda Bynes, Amanda Detmer, Donald Faison, Lee Majors, and Russell Hornsby.

The film is about a 14-year-old compulsive liar, Jason Shepherd (Muniz), whose creative writing assignment "Big Fat Liar" is stolen by an arrogant Hollywood screenwriter and producer, Marty Wolf (Giamatti), who later plans to use it to make the fictional film of the same name. The film is an allusion to the Aesop's Fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, with Jason Shepherd being analogous to the shepherd boy in the story and Marty Wolf, analogous to the wolf.[2] It was released in the United States on February 8, 2002.


Jason Shepherd is a bullied 14-year-old compulsive liar and slacker living in the city of Greenbury, Michigan. He tries to get out of his one thousand-word creative writing essay by making up a lie, but gets caught by his eighth-grade English teacher, Phyllis Caldwell, who alerts his parents. He is given three hours to submit his essay or he will fail English and repeat it in summer school. Inspired by his talent for lying, Jason writes a story titled "Big Fat Liar". While riding his sister's old bike to turn in the essay, Jason is run over by the limousine of an arrogant Hollywood screenwriter and producer, Marty Wolf, and he convinces Marty to give him a ride. Marty is in town shooting his film Whitaker and Fowl. During the ride, Marty admits he also tells lies and that the truth is overrated. In a rush, Jason accidentally leaves his essay in the limo when it falls out of his backpack. Marty is inspired by the story when he reads it and decides to keep it for himself. Realizing his essay is missing, Jason tries to explain what happened, but neither his parents nor Caldwell believe him and he is sent to summer school to repeat English.

Jason and his best friend, Kaylee, later discover Marty has plagiarized Jason's essay into a film when they see a trailer for it at a theater. During the long weekend, they fly to Los Angeles while their parents are out of town, and Jason and Kaylee sneak into Marty's office at his eponymous studio to request that Marty confess to his parents, only for Marty to purposefully burn Jason's essay and call security to remove them. Angered, they decide to inconvenience him until he confesses. Marty's former limo driver and struggling actor, Frank Jackson, agrees to help Jason and Kaylee get him back because of his own troubled history with him. They sabotage Marty through a number of pranks such as dying his skin blue (from pouring blue dye into his swimming pool) and his hair orange (hair dye in his shampoo). They even super glue his headset to his ear; trick him into going to a child's birthday party, where the children mistake him for the hired clown and beat him up; and tamper with the controls to his car, causing it to malfunction, including the horn going off when he hits the brakes, playing Eiffel 65's 1999 song "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" when he tries to turn on his blinkers, the windshield wipers turning on and trunk opening up when he tries to shut off the music, and setting off the car alarm. Marty's car is also rear-ended by a cranky elderly woman, knocking it forward into a violent monster truck owned by a wrestler known as the Masher. Thinking Marty purposely hit him, the Masher destroys his car with his truck.

Marty plans to produce Big Fat Liar with Universal Pictures, but Marcus Duncan, the newly-appointed president of Universal, loses confidence in Marty after the critical and box office failure of Whitaker and Fowl. Marcus declines to approve the budget for Big Fat Liar, so Jason agrees to help Marty in exchange for his confession to his parents. With Jason's advice, Marty makes a successful presentation which gets the film approved by Universal. Marcus, however, warns Marty that any more screwups will result in Universal pulling the plug on production and will end his career. Despite this warning, Marty subsequently betrays Jason and calls security to remove him and Kaylee for the second time. Marty's assistant, Monty Kirkham, was grown exasperated of his behavior and treatment of her and decides to help Jason and Kaylee to expose him. They gather Marty's other tormented employees and devise a plan to expose him, while Jason has his parents fly to Los Angeles after admitting to them what he did the whole weekend.

The next morning, Marty heads to the studio to begin filming Big Fat Liar, but his employees delay him through a number of mishaps (including having to jump from a helicopter). As Marty finally arrives, he encounters Jason, who kidnaps his stuffed monkey toy, Mr. Funnybones. Jason flees across the studio, luring Marty to a rooftop where he retrieves his toy and mocks Jason for trying to make him confess. Marty admits his actions, arrogantly believing no one is listening or ever will, and proclaims he will never tell the truth to anyone, believing the truth to be overrated. However, the entire conversation is caught on camera and is witnessed by Jason's parents, the media, and Marcus, who immediately fires Marty for his actions. Jason thanks Marty for teaching him an important lesson about the truth not being overrated. Marty insanely laughs, angrily threatens to get him back and furiously tries to attack him, but Jason leaps off the building and safely lands on a stunt cushion, where he finally regains his parents' trust.

At the end of the film, Universal produces Big Fat Liar after Marty's firing while using the skills of people whom he had abused. The film becomes a critical success, with Jason receiving full credit for writing his original story, pleasing his parents and Ms. Caldwell. Meanwhile, Marty declares bankruptcy and begins a new job as a birthday clown. During a visit to a birthday party, Darren, the birthday boy and son of the Masher, kicks Marty in his crotch, at his father's request.


  • Frankie Muniz as Jason Shepherd, a 14-year-old compulsive liar and slacker. Despite this, he proves to be rather intelligent.
  • Paul Giamatti as Marty Wolf, a Hollywood screenwriter and producer and founder of the fictional Marty Wolf Pictures film studio, which is associated with Universal Pictures: unlike Jason, Marty does not care how his lies affect other people.
  • Amanda Bynes as Kaylee, Jason's best friend, whom he often talks into helping out with his lies and schemes.
  • Amanda Detmer as Monty Kirkham, Marty's long suffering assistant who goes on to adapt and produce Jason's story Big Fat Liar with Universal Pictures.
  • Donald Faison as Frank Jackson, Marty's former limo driver and a struggling actor who helps Jason and Kaylee in their mission to get him back after being unfairly fired by him the year before: he goes on to star in the fictional Big Fat Liar film.
  • Sandra Oh as Ms. Phyllis Caldwell, Jason and Kaylee's eighth-grade English teacher.
  • Russell Hornsby as Marcus Duncan, who is promoted from vice-president to president of Universal Pictures.
  • Michael Bryan French as Harry Shepherd, Jason's father.
  • Christine Tucci as Carol Shepherd, Jason's mother.
  • Lee Majors as Vince, an aging, but nevertheless qualified, stunt coordinator.
  • Amy Hill as Jocelyn Davis, the senior vice-president of publicity at Marty Wolf Pictures (Marty pejoratively refers to her as "senior vice-president of Twinkies").
  • John Cho as Dusty Wong, the director of the fictional Big Fat Liar film.
  • Matthew Frauman as Lester Golub, a computer and special effects expert.
  • Sparkle as Grandma Pearl, Kaylee's senile grandmother.
  • Taran Killam as Bret Callaway, a dim-witted skateboard punk who consistently bullies Jason and is tutored by Kaylee.
  • Alex Breckenridge as Janie Shepherd, Jason's older sister who prefers spending time at her boyfriend Rudy's than looking after him.
  • Ned Brower as Rudy, Janie's boyfriend.
  • Michelle Griffin as Shandra Duncan, Marcus' wife.
  • Pat O'Brien as himself, where he interviews Marty about Big Fat Liar and covering the premiere of Whitaker and Fowl.
  • Brian Turk as The Masher, a wrestler and monster truck driver. He has a young son (who has an identical resemblance to him) who is credited as "Darren", and is nicknamed "Little Mash" by his father.

Kenan Thompson, Dustin Diamond and the film's director Shawn Levy appear as guests at the after party of the premiere of Wolf's action comedy Whitaker and Fowl, which they criticize. Jaleel White also appears uncredited as himself, starring as Officer Fowl in Whitaker and Fowl. White is annoyed that Wolf often calls him "Urkel".



Big Fat Liar was filmed March 28 to June 2001.

The film 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.

The exotic Intermec 6651 Handheld PC appears as the computer used by Lester Golub to help Jason by releasing a stream of water into Marty's path.[3]


The film's soundtrack was released by Mercury Records in 2002.

1."Come On, Come On"Smash Mouth2:33
2."Conant Gardens"Slum Village3:03
3."Me Myself and I"Jive Jones3:25
4."I Wish"Hairbrain3:11
5."Eye of the Tiger"Survivor4:29
6."Hungry Like the Wolf"Duran Duran3:41
7."Blue (Da Ba Dee)"Eiffel 653:40
8."Diablo"Triple Seven 
9."Disco Inferno"The Trammps10:54
10."Party Time"The Grand Skeem3:32
11."Backlash"The Grand Skeem 
12."Where Ya At"The Grand Skeem 
13."Mind Blow"Zion I4:38
14."Right Here Right Now"Fatboy Slim6:27
15."Move It Like This"Baha Men3:51


The film was released in cinemas on February 8, 2002 by Universal Pictures and was released on VHS and DVD on September 24, 2002 by Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD release contains an unlockable cheat code for Spyro 2: Season of Flame that turns Spyro the Dragon blue, as seen in one of Jason's pranks on Marty. It was released on Blu-ray on March 4, 2014.[4]


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $48.4 million in the United States and Canada and $4.6 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $53 million, against a budget of $15 million.[1]

The film grossed $11.6 million in its opening weekend, finishing in second at the box office behind Collateral Damage ($15.1 million).[5][6]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 45% based on 94 reviews with an average rating of 5/10. The site's critical consensus read, "Though there's nothing that offensive about Big Fat Liar, it is filled with Hollywood cliches and cartoonish slapstick, making it strictly for kids."[7] On Metacritic, the film scored 36 out of 100 based on 24 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Some critics called the film energetic and witty, but others called it dull and formulaic. Some critics gave the film positive reviews. Ebert and Roeper gave it "Two Thumbs Up".[citation needed] In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times Ebert gave it 3 out of 4, and called it "A surprisingly entertaining movie [...] ideal for younger kids, and not painful for their parents."[10] Critic David Palmer gave it 7 out of 10, calling it a fun one for people who love the behind the scenes of making movies, and "not awful considering it's a kids film".[citation needed]


Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2002 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Chemistry Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Family Feature Film – Comedy Big Fat Liar Nominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Amanda Bynes Nominated
2003 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Amanda Bynes Won


In August 2016, it was announced that a standalone sequel had begun principal photography.[14] Bigger Fatter Liar starred Ricky Garcia as Kevin Shepherd, Jodelle Ferland as Becca, and Barry Bostwick as Larry Wolf. The plot though unrelated to the first film, was similar in many ways to Big Fat Liar. Released directly to DVD in April 2017, the film was met with critical and commercial failure.[15] It was later released on Blu-ray in July 2018.[16]

Potential future[edit]

In March 2022, Shawn Levy revealed that he has always wanted to make a direct-sequel to Big Fat Liar, stating that the plot would include a Marty Wolf revenge story. The filmmaker referenced the revitalized Real Steel franchise in the form of the upcoming television series, as hope for a future Big Fat Liar sequel to be made.[17]


  1. ^ a b c "Big Fat Liar (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  2. ^ "Big Fat Liar". Empire. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  3. ^ "Starring the Computer - Intermec 6651".
  4. ^ Big Fat Liar Blu-ray Release Date March 4, 2014, retrieved February 21, 2021
  5. ^ Dave Karger (February 12, 2002). "Collateral Damage tops the box office". Entertainment Weekly.
  6. ^ DAVID GERMAIN (February 11, 2002). "'Collateral Damage' Muscles Into No. 1". Los Angeles Times. people weren’t beating down the doors to see any of these movies
  7. ^ "Big Fat Liar". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  8. ^ "Big Fat Liar". Metacritic.
  9. ^ "BIG FAT LIAR (2002) A-". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 8, 2002). "Big Fat Liar". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  11. ^ "2002 Teen Choice Awards [page 2]". The Oklahoman. August 18, 2002. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "24th Annual Young Artist Awards". Archived from the original on December 4, 2016.
  13. ^ Gary Susman (April 14, 2003). "Sandler, Bynes, win big at Kids Choice Awards". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  14. ^ "Legion Season 1, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, Beaches & Big Fat Liar 2 Start Filming". What's Filming?. August 15, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "From Universal Pictures Home Entertainment: Ricky Garcia And Barry Bostwick Go Head To Head In The All-New Side-Splitting Comedy Bigger Fatter Liar" (Press release). Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. February 8, 2017. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2017 – via KUSI.
  16. ^ " Bigger Fatter Liar [Blu-ray]". Retrieved February 27, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ El-Mahmoud, Sarah (March 11, 2022). "Shawn Levy Tells Us His Big Fat Liar 2 Idea, And We Are All In". Cinemablend. Retrieved March 27, 2022.

External links[edit]