On February 8, 2002, the beloved comedy Big Fat Liar opened in theaters. Starring a young Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes, the movie followed Jason Shepherd (Muniz) and his friend Kaylee (Bynes) as they travel cross-country when hotshot movie producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti) steals Jason's story. After Marty refuses to tell the truth, Jason and Kaylee get major revenge on him, including this iconic prank.
And while seeing Paul Giamatti run around LA covered from head to toe in blue dye was hysterical, that's not what made Big Fat Liar stand out for me. Nor was it the other pranks, Taran Killam's minor role as a bullying doofus, or even the scene where Jason and Kaylee discover the giant movie warehouse. No, what I loved the most about it was actually quite simple: The two leads didn't fall in love after going through this adventure together.
Movies tend to have a bad habit of forcing leads to get involved in some pithy romance — a romance that has nothing to do with the plot or anything — just because production companies think the audience is thirsty for love stories 24/7. Why is it so hard to believe a straight guy and a straight girl can simply be friends and never want more? Growing up, most of my friends were boys, and we'd goof off and have fun like Jason and Kaylee do.
I didn't want to date them, and they didn't want to date me; we were simply having a blast being friends. Now, the Internet is obsessed with shipping everyone under the sun together. In my humble opinion, shipping is grossly overused, and our society is obsessed with pairing up fictional characters just because.
The Team Peeta/Team Gale dichotomy from The Hunger Games was tiring and super irritating to me, since Katniss was doing perfectly fine on her own, thank you very much. That's why I applaud Dan Schneider, who wrote Big Fat Liar, for not ruining a great movie with an unnecessary romance.
There were plenty of opportunities for Schneider to have snuck in a ~moment~ or two, but thankfully that didn't happen. For example, the two sleep near each other in the warehouse, and nothing happens. Later, Kaylee gets stuck on a velcro wall and needs Jason's help in getting her down. Before helping her, Jason tells her thanks for coming with him and helping him do this. They pause and then nothing happens. Even better, at the end of the movie, after Jason's name is properly credited for the story he created, they smile at each other and then nothing happens, no making a move and sneaking a kiss.
Why? Because they're just friends and both seem completely content with keeping it that way. The film isn't about the two of them realizing "the one" was right in front of them all along. This isn't a Nicholas Sparks story. No, it's about how the truth isn't overrated and lying can screw up your relationship with your family and friends.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for characters falling in love if the story calls for it. But if the love affair is tossed in without a second thought, then there's a problem. I remember waiting in line to see this movie when it premiered and have since watched it more times than I'd like to admit. But looking back on it now made me realize what actually drew me to the movie; I was finally seeing a girl with a boy best friend who was just like me. And honestly? It was about damn time.