Jim Carrey puts so much energy and pure comedic brilliance into this movie that we hardly noticed how corny and hackneyed was the plot or how wearily didactic was the moral lesson for all fathers who neglect their children for the goddess of success. And really we didn't care. What we loved almost as much as Carrey's rubber mouth and oral blockage (like an overheated boiler fighting not to explode) was the premise: a lawyer that can't lie. Now there's an oxymoron! As Carrey tries to explain to his son Max, lawyers need to lie. Actually he says grownups need to lie, which is a truth that we really do not need to exam too closely here. To laugh at something deeply troubling in our nature is a way of dealing with it.
So the genius of this movie is first the talent of Jim Carrey, but second, for kids who come to the realization of adult mendacity for the first time, it is the discovery of comedy as a way to cope. Why do adults need to lie? is a question that a kid can never figure out, and then by the time he is an adult himself (or actually a teenager), he can no longer comprehend how important the question once was. Call it innocence lost, or the socialization process.
My favorite part of the movie is the courtroom scene with Jennifer Tilly dressed oh so sluttily and her adulterous beaux looking like a model for the cover of a romance novel and Carrey in tatters in his [expensive] suit. Second would be the bathroom scene in which Carrey tries to tear himself apart (and seems to almost succeed). His flapping mouth between the toilet seat and the bowl was inspired. Give some credit to director Tom Shadyac, who managed to steer the vehicle with Carrey at the controls, and to writers, Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur, who wrote some funny lines.
The great comedians totally let themselves go. They are totally on. They go to extremes and beyond. It's like transcending not just the ordinary, but even the imagined. See this obviously for Jim Carrey, one of the great comedic talents of our time, an original who would have delighted Charlie Chaplin with his extraordinary muggings, his blatant audacity and his superb timing.