Lie Hard is like a less over-the-top Ross Patterson title in its quirky tone. Director/co-writer Ian Niles and writer Harrison Feuer have a story that could be heavy on the dramatics, but they chose to make it absurd and somewhat lighthearted. That’s not to say Niles and Feuer don’t include any heartfelt or authentic emotions; it is just not what they are focusing on.
Rob (Niles) is getting ready to meet his girlfriend’s parents, though Katie (Melanie Chandra) is a bit nervous about it as they can be a lot to deal with. Over dinner, Rob makes a few inappropriate comments and jokes out of sheer nervousness. Afterwards, Katie’s dad (Patrick Kilpatrick) implores him to break up with his daughter. With these words ringing in his ears and his job constantly in jeopardy, Rob borrows $4 million from the mob to buy a mansion.
While Katie is thrilled by the lovely new home, she is dismayed that he didn’t include her in the decision. However, mafia kingpin Big Sally (Catherine Curtin) sends her top enforcer to collect payment much, much sooner than expected. This sends Rob scrambling to find the dough by tearing the mansion apart, looking for the treasure supposedly hidden within its walls. To that end, he hires Clyde (Chris Jarell) and Brick (Joel Marsh Garland) to help out. Will Rob find the money and pay back his debt, or will his lies and need for external validation put Katie in danger?
“Will Rob find the money and pay back his debt, or will his lies…put Katie in danger?”
Lie Hard is 88 minutes long, and every one of them is filled with an amusing quip or laugh-out-loud moment. Niles intimately understands the material and his strengths as an actor. Directing-wise, he keeps the pace up, lets the jokes naturally flow from the characters, and keeps the sense of danger quite high. Due to the care put into the craft, the film remains highly enjoyable from start to finish.
The biggest reason for that is the killer cast. Niles makes a pathological liar not only likable but sympathetic and fun. His chemistry with Chandra is incredible and lets audiences know what each character gets out of the relationship. The always amazing Curtin is having a ball as the violent, angry mob boss. She has the comedic timing to make her appearances funny while remaining intimidating enough to be a credible threat. But the scene stealers are Jarell and Garland. They are so funny and oddly sweet that the duo is poised to break out as the next huge comedic stars anytime now.
Of course, Lie Hard wouldn’t be nearly as engaging if not for the witty screenplay. Niles and Feuer keep things absurd and goofy but never break reality. Every decision someone makes seems logical in some way to them, and viewers understand that instantly. On top of that, the writers don’t overload the film via the kitchen sink approach. While there is always something to engage those watching, there’s a beat or two between the big laughs, so what just happened can sink, and people have time to react (usually, it is either cringe or bemused disbelief). Plus, the lines work, especially Brick’s monologue after he takes over negotiations on the phone.
Lie Hard might be slightly too quirky for those who prefer their films a bit more grounded and realistic. For everyone else, Niles and company have provided a fast-paced, witty, charming feature. If you want to laugh while still getting a slight emotional pull at the end, then look no further.
"…fast-paced, witty, charming..."