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Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Matinee: Liar, Liar

Have you ever told a lie in your lifetime thus far?

For about 99.9% of us in this world, the answer is yes.  The other 0.1% are either newborn babies, or in complete and total denial.

The truth is that most of us lie at some point.  It could be an instance where you're trying to spare someone's feelings.  Maybe you're lying to get a day off of work or school?  Maybe you lied about not doing a homework assignment, or getting a task done.

It happens.  I'll even admit to bending the truth a few times myself.

In retrospect, I can't really remember what it was that I lied about most often.  In all honestly, the likely cause was something to do with trying to get out of trouble.  Say I accidentally broke a mirror with a baseball that I shouldn't have been throwing in the house in the first place.  When my parents tried to give me trouble for it, I'd tell them that my sister broke it instead, or that I tripped and fell, and the mirror broke my fall, or that aliens invaded Canada and smashed every mirror in the neighbourhood, or whatever farfetched story my childlike mind came up with.

The problem with telling a lie is that at some point in time, they always come back to haunt you with a vengeance.  On the instance in which a lie was found out (which in the case of my childhood was always), I would end up in more trouble, and end up confined to my room or something like that.

Certainly lying to someone in general is something that is usually not condoned, and we should always strive to tell the truth whenever the need arises.  Especially if the lie that you are telling hurts the person you're lying to.

I think this would be a good time to bring up today's Monday Matinee.

Liar, Liar is a movie that was released in March of 1997.  It starred Jim Carrey as Fletcher Reede, a defense lawyer who has one flaw.

He lies.  He lies a LOT.

On one hand, this has proven to be a blessing for Fletcher.  Because of his bending of the truth, he wins case after case, which allows him to climb further up the corporate ladder of the firm he works for.  However, Fletcher's compulsive lying has a downside.

As a direct result of his lying, he is jeopardizing the relationship that he has with his young son, Max (Justin Cooper).  Because of Fletcher's desire to move up in the firm, he often puts work before his parental responsibilities.  He breaks promises to Max, and then when his ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney) confronts him about it, he lies and makes up a whole plethora of excuses to cover his own behind.  It's also implied in the movie that the reason why Audrey and Fletcher's marriage broke up was also due to his lies and deceit.

In other words, Fletcher is introduced as a cad who will basically spoonfeed lie after lie to his loved ones in order to satisfy his own selfishness.

I wouldn't classify Fletcher Reede as being a very sympathetic character at the beginning of the film.

One day at work, Fletcher's luck seems to be improving.  He is representing a woman named Samantha Cole (Jennifer Tilly) in an expensive divorce case, and if Fletcher can pull out a win, it may be enough to become a full-fledged partner in the firm.  However, in an incredibly sleazy back-up plan, Fletcher decides to sleep with his boss, Miranda (Amanda Donohoe) in a last ditch effore to become a partner.

As if this idea didn't make your skin crawl already, picture this.  The very night Fletcher was doing the horizontal Macarena with boss lady was the same night as his son's birthday party.  A party that Fletcher promised that he would attend.  So, when Fletcher ended up being a no-show at the party, it really broke Max's heart.  In an effort to cheer Max up, Audrey lights the candles on his cake, and tells Max that he can wish for anything he wants, and maybe it will come true.  Max blows out the candles, and...well...

Fletcher Reede, this is your life after one gigantic dose of instant karmic retribution, courtesy of your five year old son.

Truth hurts, doesn't it?

I mean, obviously, nobody would ever go up to a random woman and tell her that the real reason people are nice to her is because of her ample bosoms.  Well...okay, maybe some actually would, and they'd get a fist full of knuckles as a parting gift.

But this was what would plague Fletcher Reede the entire day.  From 8:15 that very night until 8:15 the next night, Fletcher Reede would be incapable of telling a fib, a white lie, a humongous whopper. 

Which proved to be incredibly problematic for Fletcher, for the timing could not be all wrong.

For one thing, Fletcher discovered that his ex-wife was planning to marry her new boyfriend (Cary Elwes), and that she and Max were leaving Los Angeles to move to Boston.  Having conversations with his ex-wife, and Fletcher telling Audrey that he skipped Max's party to boink the boss certainly didn't diffuse the situation any.  In fact, it made Audrey's decision to leave that much easier.

Then there was the problems at work.  Beforehand, he could lie his way out of awkward situations smoothly, and kept his social status high by telling his co-workers half-truths to keep them on his good side.  But when the ability to lie was taken away from him, and he was forced to shower them with brutal honesty, and possibly ending any social connection that he may have had.

Basically, if Facebook was around in 1997, he would have been unfriended.  A lot.

Try as he might though, Fletcher could not tell a lie.  He couldn't even write lies, or type lies, or do anything lie-related.

Now comes the kicker.  This all happens on the very day that the Samantha Cole trial is to begin.  There is a witness that is willing to testify on behalf of Samantha Cole, and is even willing to commit perjury to do it. 

But that wouldn't even be an option because Fletcher was unable to even ask a question where the answer would result in a lie.  During the course of the trial, he even objected to his own questions, which confused the opposing attorney, and angered the judge.

Add the fact that Miranda (who was still scorned over Fletcher's candid confession after their night together) had overheard Fletcher confess to being unable to tell a lie, and planned to use this to sabotage his chances of ever becoming a partner.

Basically, Fletcher was in a really precarious position, and he needed to find a way out.

Knowing that all of this started when Max made that birthday wish, Fletcher raced over to his son's school and pulled him out of class so that he could cancel out his previous wish and have things go back to normal.  Max isn't keen on the idea however, and refuses to honour Fletcher's wish.  Fletcher tries to explain that everyone lies in the world, including his mom and her new boyfriend.  Max isn't buying it, and in one of the most truthful statements in the whole film, Max tells Fletcher that his lies make him feel bad. 

It was at that very moment that Fletcher got his light bulb moment, although his light bulb wasn't shining very brightly at the time.

And, that's as far as I'm going to go with this, because I do not like spoiling movie plotlines (even if the movie is almost fifteen years old).  All I will say is that the light bulb moment flashes brilliantly at the Samantha Cole trial, where ironically enough, his inability to lie helps him win the case.  It is in the aftermath of the case that Fletcher really takes Max's words to heart, and makes an impulsive decision to stop Audrey and Max from leaving. 

Again, you'll just have to watch the movie yourself to find out how it ends.

I really enjoyed this movie a lot.  Jim Carrey was brilliant in the film, and all of the actors really made an unbelievable plot a little more believable. 

This movie also taught me a very important lesson about the subject of lies.  Lies can hurt people, even when you lie to spare their feelings.

If anything, this movie helped me learn how to be more truthful to others about how I am really feeling.

I really don't like showcasing too much of the negative aspects of my life in this blog too much, because I'm at the point in my life where I don't feel a need to showcase that piece of my life anymore.  I got it all out of my system now, and now that it's out, I feel so much better about myself.  It is true what they say about the truth being able to set you free.  I know that by being so open and honest about the pain and the struggles that I went through in my past, it has freed me to become the man I am now.  Which isn't a bad guy, if I do say so myself.

I wasn't always so honest though.  I didn't always tell the truth about what was happening with me in school.  When people saw that I was upset and they asked me what was wrong, I would always fib, and tell them that I was fine, and that they shouldn't worry.  The truth was that I wasn't fine.  I really needed to talk to someone about the bullying that I went through, and the emotional abuse that I was subjected to at school, but I lied about the real impact that it had on me because I was worried that people wouldn't take it seriously.  I honestly thought that most of them would say that I was overreacting, or that I was making it out to be bigger than it was. 

So, I kept my real feelings bottled up inside for a long time.  By the time they came out, they had been festering in bitterness and anger that I wasn't exactly sure of how to manage them.  It's taken time, but I think I'm a lot better at handling it.  Still, I kept lying to others about how I felt, while simultaneously lying to myself.  It was almost a vicious cycle.  The more I told others that things were okay when they really weren't, the more I ended up lying to myself. 

I managed to break that cycle, but I know how Fletcher felt in the movie.  Yes, it's a fictionalized situation that is very unlikely to happen.  The point is that the more lies Fletcher told in the movie, the more he hurt those closest to him.  And by hurting those closest to him, he ultimately ended up hurting himself the most.

Ultimately, Fletcher Reede saw the error of his ways, and he tried to set things right so that he could find his inner peace again.  I'd like to think that I'm doing the same, although my journey is nowhere near over at this stage. 

At least I can look back on this blog entry and say that it was written with one hundred per cent honesty.

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