Forgotten Friday Flick – “An Honest Liar”

The end of the year is near and I’m down to my final previous site Top Ten #1 flashback dissection just before my Top Ten Films of 2017 appears next week, so let’s finish it off – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  This blast from the recent past comes from my 2015 film list and – surprise, surprise – it’s in the form of one damn fine documentary.  Combining both personal and professional insight with natural and engaging ease, it’s the story of a man who prided himself on creating candid make believe…while taking down those who claimed their trickery was real.  Elevating real-life storytelling to a whole other level, it’s time to meet…An Honest Liar.

Having been fascinated with master magicians at an early age, especially his idolization of the great Harry Houdini, James “The Amazing” Randi was destined to become a showman himself.  His early days as a magician and escape artist taught Randi that using tricks for entertainment purposes could be joyful, but also that using such theatrics to deceive the impressionable could prove to be harmful.  So he decided to use his knowledge of the craft to not only perform for captive audiences, but also to debunk various psychics, faith healers and channelers all with brilliant and unorthodox methods that made him both revered and hated – An Honest Liar is his story.

The above is a minuscule fraction, a mere peek if you will at the page-turning tale of the complex life of James “The Amazing” Randi.  As told through the eyes of skilled filmmakers Justin Weinstein & Tyler Measom, no savory story stone is left unturned, no detailed glossed over and no revelation too controversial for this no-holds-barred deep dissection of a man whose own life is at times filled with smoke and mirrors.  From Randi’s early stories of harrowing near-death escapes (the “magic touch” opening video sets the movie mood for sure!) to the long overdue exposing of religious con men like famed preacher Peter Popoff (God sounds a lot like Popoff’s wife!), An Honest Liar isn’t afraid to dish the dirt to get to the truth.  The riveting real-life reveals, much like in a Vegas stage show, just keep getting more and more shocking, grandiose and personal and the effectiveness is a direct result of the meticulous construction and execution of the film itself.  Not to mention that there’s both notable names (Penn & Teller anyone?!) and surprisingly words from foes (we get to hear from longtime Randi target Uri Geller!) that help fully flesh out the world of a man who seems to truly love magic and make believe.

Of course in a story about the power of illusion and its ability to hide secrets, it’s fitting that the filmmakers would find some in their subject’s own closet and refreshingly they expose those too warts and all.  And it’s that uncensored candid vibe that ultimately makes An Honest Liar such a rare five-star treat – seeing the man behind the mask here is where the real magic lies.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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