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Liar Liar Recasted | FilmClassics
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Natalie and Rianna’s The Great Recasting Blogathon–Bailey and Dan’s article on “Liar Liar” 1997


07/16/12
When Dan first came to me about doing this blogathon, I was all for it. I’d already “signed up” to write one by myself and was nearly done; how hard could writing another one be for me? Well I tell ya! It’s about two weeks until the event and I have guaranteed Internet access for 1 of those days. I’ve just started typing this. The ideas were all Dan. The rules:

1. Pick a movie that was made in between 1966 and today
2. Change the year of production
3. Choose new leads from Classic Hollywood
4. Choose a new director from Classic Hollywood
5. Explain why you think it would work

Dan thought it would be a great idea to do 1997’s Liar Liar, originally starring Jim Carrey as Fletcher
Reede and Justin Cooper as his young son, Max. Fun fact: This movie is similar to Bob Hope’s Nothing But the Truth from 1941.

Right from the start we had some difficulty choosing who to recast. I suppose part of the problem was the distinct fact that they were from different levels of movie content tolerance. But we finally decided to recast Dan’s original choice of Cary Grant to play Fletcher Reede and Tommy Retig as Max, the cause of Fletcher’s inability to lie…

07/24/12
When I asked Bailey if she and I could do one of these re-casting reviews together, I honestly had no idea how this whole thing would work out. This is absolutely the first time I’d ever participated in a blogathon, other than voting in the film-classics article contest. As she said, we had no clue who to cast as the lead in Carrey’s place. I thought about Bob Hope, but decided against him for a couple of reasons. Seeing as “Liar Liar” seems to be a remake of “Nothing But the Truth,” Hope has already played that role. The potential audiences would probably be bored and not go to see him remake his own movie of not six years earlier (at least I would be uninterested in it). I mean he just did it! He just did it! And, Bob Hope is not the type of person that Jim Carrey is.
We have tried to explain throughout how the people who we’ve re-casted would work (see rule 5).

 

For those of you who have yet to see Liar Liar, here is a summary of the plot: (SPOILERS INCLUDED) A fast-talking, overworked, and incredibly successful lawyer named Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) is doing his best to become a partner in his law firm. He is divorced from his wife, Audrey (Maura Tierney). They have a child named Max (Justin Cooper).

Fletcher Reede often ignores his son. He doesn’t mean to, he just forgets. When he doesn’t forget, he lies to get out of doing things with his son because something (that seems to him to be) more important has come up. He lies to get out of whatever pressing situation he is in. He lies to win cases. He has built his career by lying. He is attempting to curry favor with the senior partners who, in essence, have the fate of his job in their hands.

Max gets more and more disillusioned as time passes and his dad breaks more and more promises to spend time with him.

Audrey gets increasingly frustrated with Fletcher and concerned for Max.

Eventually, Fletcher breaks a promise to play ball with Max. About this time, Audrey’s boyfriend Jerry gets transferred to New York. Jerry wants to take his girlfriend and Max along.
Audrey decides to give Fletcher one last chance. He promises to come to Max’s birthday party. Once again, he lies. He is also starting on a particularly nasty divorce case.
At said birthday party, Max, who dearly loves and is extremely disappointed in his dad, makes a wish that his dad cannot lie for 24 hours. This wish immediately takes effect, and the fun begins….

Fletcher tells a senior partner what he thinks of her. After picking himself off of the floor, he goes home. The next day he discovers that he cannot lie. He cannot speak a lie, he cannot write a lie, and he cannot ask a question that leads someone else to lie. He tells everyone what he really wants to say to them, not what politeness demands. After his secretary quits, the senior partner that he had offended calls him over. After asking him what he thinks of the chairman of the committee to select the new partner, and after he tells the very derogatory truth, she leads him into the room and tells Fletcher to repeat what he just said about the chairman. He does. The chairman loves his honesty and courage, and then demands to know what he thinks of everyone else in the room. Insults fly.

After leaving the room, Fletcher goes to Max’s school and asks Max what is going on with him. Max tells him. They cannot change it.

Fletcher tries all sorts of hilarious things to get out of his day in court, but cannot. Eventually he does win his case, but only after severely annoying the judge. He then corrects the judge, who holds him in contempt of court.
His former secretary bails him out. He realizes that, due to being in jail, he has missed meeting his ex-wife and son and therefore they are heading to the airport.

Fletcher drives like a madman on his way to the airport. He gets pulled over and yet another funny scene ensues. (another spoiler) He does eventually get his wife and Max back.

 

And now, please step back in time with us to 1946 and the remake of Liar Liar with Cary Grant in Jim Carrey’s role as Fletcher Reede, Tommy Rettig as Max, and Howard Hawks/Barbara Stanwyck as co-directors.

Note: The Hayes Code would cause several of the scenes in the 1997 version to be changed or even deleted outright.

+++++++++++

The Year is 1946. Cary Grant is in his “Young prime.” This is late enough in his life that he is a seasoned, respected actor who connected well with the audience—which his younger self (early 1930s) did not. At the same time, this is early enough that he still looked like he was in his 30s (at the latest, in his young 40s), young and active (which the role seems to demand). Thus the Young of “Young Prime.” And he was in his prime—physically and mentally, and was arguably doing some of his best acting. He had developed that “connection,” while not losing anything as some have said he did.
It is the apex of his career. As I see it, Grant’s apex started (after connecting with the audience) about 1939/1940 and continued…well, it continued thru “Charade” (which was 1963), at which point he had not lost anything, except his youthful looks and some of his agility. He was in his golden years as an actor–and not the way we speak of someone’s “golden years” meaning they are old or aging, but “golden years” the way we speak of “the Golden Age of Hollywood” as being the time when they were doing their best work and were best-loved (at least by us classic Hollywood and radio fans).
Having established this fact, the year is also late enough that pictures have moved on from the semi-tackiness of the early movies (though many movies from the ’30s were excellent); the code, while still being strongly enforced, had already (slightly) relaxed to the point where it stayed until the mid-1950s, meaning they could make the movie seem like real life (to us). It wouldn’t be deep depression-era escapism, but rather a celebration of the era.

The following are some of the ways in which Cary Grant (CG) would play Fletcher better than Jim Carrey did:
CG looked sharp when wearing a suit. Carrey looks half-sharp. Even when Carrey is “looking his best,” he still doesn’t measure up to Grant’s debonair appearance. Carrey looks as if (to put it one way) “the clothes were wearing him”, not him wearing the clothes. Carrey looks half-relaxed several times while wearing a suit–almost looking like a slob.
CG carried off forgetting things better than Carrey does. Where Carrey will look disgusted and swear, Grant would look disgusted (doing better than Carrey at showing deep disgust) and maybe slap his head.
Carrey also stunk at explaining to his son why he (Fletcher) couldn’t do things with Max. While the plot of the movie dictates that Fletcher neglect spending time with his son, Grant would have been able to trump up a half-baked reason, which would sound a lot (lot) better than Carrey’s one-quarter-baked excuse. Cary would have this way of explaining that would leave the listener feeling that he (Grant) was in the right in essentially abandoning Max, while Carrey just plain looked bad while doing so. Please understand that I am not saying that Fletcher had any reason to ignore his child. He did not. But if he had to (as the plot demands), Grant would have at least done it with style. Whatever else you say or think about Cary Grant, he had style.
When Fletcher had to give his reasons (excuses) for not talking with various people, CG would have done so better than Carrey because he had a deeper voice, and personally, I think that a bass or baritone does a better job of whining than a tenor does. But that’s just me. ;)
Cary could also talk circles around Jim. In the courtroom, CG could slow down a bit, and have it come out more impressively than Carrey did. I’m not saying that Carrey is bad, just that CG would be better. Grant seems like he’d be the type of person who could swindle you and make you happy that he swindled you because you’d think he did it for your own good.
CG could also display nobility in said courtroom scene. I can just see him standing there with a glint in his eye, shaking his finger in the judge’s face, shouting something along the lines of “Children should never be used as leverage in a case like this!” Or again while delivering the famous statement, “I hold myself in contempt. Why should you be any different?!”
At the same time, it is hard to beat Carrey’s performance when the policeman pulls him over.
When Carrey was told to give his impressions of the committee members, Grant could do it just as well, if not better. CG could insult people in a way that was extremely funny (not as funny as Groucho Marx could do it, but still funny).

And–again at least in part because of the code–Grant’s language would be far cleaner, yet also highly insulting. And CG would remember to be a gentleman at all times, even when sending his ex-wife out on a “date”. He could (yet again my opinion) do a better job of appearing livid than Carrey could. As I see it, CG would get held up from attending the kid’s birthday party by a conference or tele-conference. And CG drove well–very well. He would also be able to do the driving that Carrey did safely.

One reason the year of production was changed to 1946 was so that Tommy Rettig would be 5 and available to us. Any little boy or girl would have done for the part of Max, but looking the part was much better than only being able to act the part. Rettig would easily be able to sell the little boy neglected by his father image.
Tommy could have an expression that makes you want to go and help him. This look could also display disappointment in you. I think we saw some of each from him in “Harvey”, during the scene where his head is stuck in the railing.

The Director:
I/we had a tough time thinking up who this could be. For one thing, I don’t really know what a director does. But at last I decided to go with Carole Lombard. And then I remembered the year. 1946. Carole died in 1942. Therefore, we had to come up with a new director.
We came up with the directing team of Howard Hawks and Barbara “Missy” Stanwyck.

Howard brings with him success from a number of pictures (among them are Ball of Fire, Sergeant York, Ceiling Zero, To Have and Have Not, Bringing Up Baby, and many others), including comedy. He has worked well with CG in the past (His Girl Friday, Only Angels Have Wings, Bringing Up Baby). Overall, he is a good director and well-qualified to turn Liar Liar into a code movie and a screwball comedy.
Missy would be good because she had a high work ethic. She was a professional. She worked hard at whatever she was asked or told to do. And more than that, she could–and did–help young or struggling actors or actresses, by pointing out what they were doing wrong and working hard with them to help them correct it. She would be invaluable in helping Tommy Rettig, who is only 5 years old (in 1946) and lacks acting experience. While she hasn’t directed before, she would be eager to learn and great in the job. Her experience on the “other side of the (acting) fence” would be invaluable in her new role as co-director. She’d be great in whatever capacity we placed her, including that of co-director. She’s just great.

And since the movie is set in 1946, we’d have it shot in black and white because B&W shows contrast better and is so much cooler and more impressive than color. ;)  Thank you for coming and we hope you enjoyed the show. Please deposit your programs in the boxes located at each exit door and enjoy a safe trip home!

~Co-written by Bailey and Dan

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Natalie and Rianna's The Great Recasting Blogathon--Bailey and Dan's article on "Liar Liar" 1997, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses

  1. Avatar of David David says:

    This would be something to watch – Cary Grant? Yep! Thanks for the write up – enjoyed it :D

    David.

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  2. Bailey says:

    Thank you all for the compliments! It was fun working with you, Dan. :D

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  3. Kristen says:

    Great recast! I love the idea of swapping out a Carrey for a Cary and your in-depth explanations on how Grant would do better are amazing. I’d love to see this version.

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  4. Avatar of Moon Moon says:

    Hi guys, I loved your article, you really thought things through and know how to present your case! I agree with you and the other comments, CG would give more presence and is much funnier than JC. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Avatar of Dan Dan says:

    Thanks guys! (And I’m sure Bailey would say the same, but she’s on vacation with limited-to-no-internet access right now.) So, thanks from both of us!
    And R.C.–as much as I like Cary Grant, I don’t think he’d have been able to do “Charley’s Aunt” quite as well as Jack Benny did. Not quite. :)

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  6. I have no doubt that Cary Grant would be perfect! He not only would look the part better than Jim, but he would be funnier as well. Great choices and a great post. Thanks.

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  7. Avatar of R.C. R.C. says:

    Cary could do anything. It’s been years, and I do mean years, since I’ve seen Liar, Liar and now that I know all about the classics and very little about the present movies, I have to agree with your casting Cary in Jim’s role.

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  8. Avatar of Cheryl Cheryl says:

    Ooh, Barbara Stanwyck as a director! Imagine the possibilities.

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  9. Avatar of Natalie Natalie says:

    Great job, guys! :D Thanks for joining our blogathon!

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