Analysis of Liar Liar Movie
According to the recent study outlined in the Journal of Applied and Basic Psychology, it was concluded that 60% of people had lied on more than one occasion during their ten conversations with strangers. Another research on the frequency of lying among men and women indicated that males are more likely to lie to their bosses, partners or colleagues and the major part of their untruth serves their self-interest or is intended to avoid hurting people. The film Liar Liar directed by Tom Shadyac with Jim Carrey staring effectively demonstrates the causes why people lie as well as provides the consequences of deception. Tired of his fathers constant breach of promises and lies, young Max makes a wish on his birthday to make his father Fletcher Reede tell the truth for 24 hours. Although the movie is categorized as a comedy, it fulfills the purpose of educating its audience about the toxic effect of lying and how it can lead to havoc and misery to both perpetrators and victims. Therefore, it is crucial to analyze the ethical problem relating to lying on the basis of the given film and determine its impacts on the daily life.
Ethical Problem in the Movie
The central theme in the film Liar Liar directed by Tom Shadyac is certainly lying. Fletcher Reede is presented as a career-focused lawyer who without any doubt loves his son Max but due to personal ambitions and other reasons he is unable to keep his promises. Fletcher has developed a compulsive lying habit, and this is highlighted as one of the reasons as to why his marriage failed. Even in his profession, he exaggerates stories and is self-centered. Frustrated by his father’s habit, Max decides to make a very specific wish to make his father compelled to refrain from lying only for 24 hours, which comes true immediately. What follows is Fletchers realization that indeed he cannot lie anymore, and neither can he mislead or deceive others. He begins to blurt painful and hurtful messages to his co-workers, and at one point, he is even impounded by a police officer for confessing to previous crimes that he has committed.
The climax is reached when he eventually discovers that he is unable to lie or even ask suggestive questions that he already has the answer to. To evade the consequences of his son’s wishes, Fletcher tries to convince Max to reverse the wish stating that lying is a necessary evil, especially for adults. However, what is done cannot be undone. Considering what is at stake, Fletcher decides to do whatever it takes to delay the ongoing Samanthas case. Because of the sudden shift in his character, Fletcher is forced to suffer the outcomes of his previous actions, and he even loses his assistant Greta. He also demonstrates this erratic behavior in court to the extent that some people begin to question his sanity. Moreover, he is even arrested for the contempt of court but Greta comes to his rescue and forgives him. At the end, one can see that contrary to Fletcher’s belief, telling the truth has made him a better person.
Conflicts and Values
It is evident that the ongoing conflict in the film is between telling the truth and lying. When evaluating the movie on the grounds of conflicts and values, it is important to take into account different moral theories. For example, according to the deontological moral theory, which was developed by Immanuel Kant, such actions as theft and lying were prohibited (Conway & Gawronski, 2013). Kant argued that even when it was clear that these actions would bring happiness rather than its alternative, individuals ought to refrain from this kind of behavior. He asked people to consider the impacts of their actions, whether they respect the goals of other human beings instead of self-ambitions exclusively. If the answer to the above question was no, one ought to refuse from such activities. Consequently, utilitarian ethical theory formulated by Stuart Mill argues that the best deeds or actions are those that maximize utility; additionally, right and wrong decisions should be primarily based on their expected outcome (Gawronski & Beer, 2017). Utilitarianism not only focuses on the interest of the doer but also on the benefits for others.
From the film Liar Liar it is evident that several right and wrong actions were performed. For example, the main character Fletcher is presented as a pathological liar who to some extent believes that as long as a lie favors his ambition, it is justified. Much of his success as a lawyer is linked to dishonesty since he always handicaps his opponents to gain what he wants. The resulting impact is the lack of mistrust, as it is witnessed through his divorce and numerous conflicts with his colleagues. For instance, even his most loyal assistant Greta is annoyed upon learning the truth, and she abandons him. Thus, one may deduce that Fletcher did not conform to deontological moral standards because even though it brought him happiness, it had the opposite effect on others. Consequently, his deed was unethical according to the utilitarian moral theory because it did not serve the interest of the majority. However, he changes, and at the end, his reward for telling the truth and doing the right thing is that he manages to convince Audrey and Max to stay and is eventually blessed with his firm.
Society and Principles
According to Leavitt and Sluss (2015), for the society to run smoothly and people to co-exist, everyone must follow specific rules or moral codes. Nevertheless, those who oppose these provisions are often secluded or held accountable under the law among other consequences. In case of Fletcher, his compulsive lying conduction had adverse effects on the society. Firstly, it led to the conflict within the family and a divorce. At the beginning of the film, the viewers are informed that Fletcher did not live with his wife because he was unable to keep his promises. Additionally, there is a disruption in the family setting when people are dishonest. Fletcher could not fulfill his parental obligations because of his lies. Shalvi, Gino, Barkan and Ayal (2015) state that one of the harmful effects of lying is that after an individual has embraced it, he or she has to continue lying to cover for the previous untruth. Besides, this was witnessed in the film whereby even after lying to his son, Fletcher had to continue repeating the same mistake until Max compelled him to tell the truth.
It is evident from the movie that compulsive lying can result in conflict at the workplace as well as damage reputation and trust. Greta is presented as a very loyal assistant who worked with Fletcher and had a lot of respect for him. However, after she learned that Fletcher did not reciprocate and lied to her, she was disappointed and even opted to leave the job. Moreover, there is a serious confrontation at the office when the true nature of Fletcher is revealed, and it becomes obvious that he has been lying. Due to the turn of events in the movie, one may argue that even though people use a lie to attain their desired interests, the truth always uncovers itself and then the perpetrator usually has a hard time justifying his or her actions. Hence, when the truth was finally discovered, Fletcher found that he had to continue working with his peers and resorted to starting his firm. On the other hand, when honesty is embraced, as it was in case of Fletcher at the end of the movie, happiness and reconciliation are achieved. Therefore, there is joy within the family and in the workplace along with peaceful co-existence.
The film Liar Liar directed by Tom Shadyac is mainly about Fletchers son Max who wants to feel the presence of his father more because he has been failing in his promises (Grazer & Shadyac, 1997). Fletcher got used to dishonesty to the extent that it was a normal thing. He is deceitful in his legal practice and often shortchanges his opponents to have an advantage over them. His main objective is usually to win cases and make more money for his firm hoping that sooner or later he would get a promotion. Because of these behaviors, his wife divorced him, and he almost lost his child. From an individual’s perspective, it is unethical because serving exclusively personal interest causes more harms than benefits. Furthermore, it is unethical because Fletchers actions contradict both deontological and utilitarian moral principles. For example, his deeds fail to respect other human beings and are self-centered. Additionally, they are not aimed at bringing happiness to the vast majority, as it is required by the utilitarian theory.
The movie has several scenes where the main actor breaks the law. The most obvious one is when Fletcher is arrested for the contempt of court. Moreover, once he is compelled to say the truth, he voluntarily admits his wrongdoing to one of the police officers that he had unpaid parking tickets. In addition, by denying Greta her pay rise yet this was a legal requirement, Fletcher also violated the law. Lastly, his conduct at the courtroom and the way he handles cases determine the illegalities because he does not serve the truth but only his interest and the organizations goals that favor him. Although the man is aware that he is a dishonest person, Fletcher does not make any attempt to seek help until his son comes to his rescue and makes him realize that there are other important things in life besides the career success.
From an individuals perspective, serious dishonesty in case of Fletcher can be resolved through counseling and guidance, early childhood training on the significance of honesty or through adopting the law and punishing offenders accordingly. One of the benefits of opting for guidance and counseling is that at times, dishonesty may be caused by various psychological or emotional factors, which may require adequate attention from a licensed psychologist. The latter will engage the patient until a workable solution is attained. However, the main shortcoming is the time frame, because in some instances, by the time the treatment is complete the damages done could become irreversible.
Secondly, early childhood training and education are effective because children are reared with awareness and appreciation of the importance of being honest and can handle future challenges accordingly (Jones, 2017). The main disadvantage of this approach is that it may not work for senior people who already have the habit; moreover, there are other contributing factors, which may contribute to human untruthfulness. Detention of dishonest people by law enforcement agencies is usually the final option, but its main flaw is that it fails to give one another chance. From an individual’s perspective, the best solution would be to advise the person who has infringed the law to seek professional counselling from a licensed psychologist. Although the wrongdoers may not attend the sessions voluntarily, law enforcement officers may compel the offender to receive clinical help. While addressing the issue of dishonesty and lies, the psychologist will have an opportunity to analyze the causes of such a behavior the ways to tame the patients.
1. People who lie or are dishonest should be made aware of the adverse effects of frequent lies, and they need professional advice to change their behavior.
2. Serious dishonesty, as in case of Fletcher, reveals psychological and emotional problems and can only be managed if the victim is ready to change and has genuine reasons to be treated.
3. Dishonesty in a family setting can be handled by creating an environment where there are openness and respect for all parties.
4. Guidance and counseling are one of the best methods of treating compulsive dishonesty because it addresses the problem and its cause.
Although the film Liar Liar directed by Tom Shadyac was released two decades ago, it effectively highlights some of the issues facing modern families and organizations. Fetcher is a true depiction of those who always put their self-interest first to the extent that they even abandon their loved ones. Thus, the intervention of his son Max was essential to wake his humane side and remind him of his fatherly and husbandly duty. Fletcher’s actions before his epiphany were very unethical because they did not serve the interest of the majority or that of his family. As a result, his wife divorced him, and he almost lost his young son. Individuals who have a similar problem like Fletcher should be advised to seek psychological help and change their behavior until it is too late. One of the approaches that can be used is guidance and counseling whereby the person will be undergo treatment, and his/her emotional as well as psychological concerns will be addressed.