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Movie Review: The Hoax

Alternate Title: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Story: There's nothing like a real life hoax when it translates well into a movie. Director Lasse Hallström is back in form with an entertaining romp 'based on the true story' of Clifford Irving's fake autobiography about Howard Hughes back in1971-72. It rocked the publishing world and made sensational headlines for months.

At the time, the American public had a fascination with the reclusive Howard Hughes and could not get enough information about this very strange billionaire. Clifford Irving took advantage of that hunger and convinced McGraw-Hill that he had been contacted by Hughes to write his autobiography.

How he faked his way through this ordeal and managed to wrangle a $1,000,000 advance is fun to watch. The screenplay is by William Wheeler, based on the novel, 'Hoax,' written by Clifford Irving himself, published after he got out of prison.

The film is breezy, funny and mostly fast paced. The last 20 minutes are very convoluted and the film almost loses its way. However, if you are old enough like me to remember this farce and if you can forgive a few gaffs and missteps you will enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Acting: Richard Gere, who is definitely not on my favorites list, was perfect in this role. He captured the devilish Irving beautifully. Alfred Molina, as his sidekick and researcher is coming into his own as an undiscovered actor and was fun to watch. Marcia Gay Harden, with a thick German-Swiss accent as Irving's wife was a bit weird to watch. Hope Davis and Stanley Tucci are always good. Julie Delpy, as Nina Van Pallandt, Irving's mistress was wasted in this role. In a strange life/art twist, it turns out that the real Nina Van Pallandt played a role in Richard Gere's film, American Gigolo, way back when.

Predilection: I remember the hoax well. At least I thought I did but had an eye-popping moment during the final 20 minutes of the film when it was revealed that there was an Nixon-Nixon's brother, Donald-Howard Hughes-Bebe Rebozo connection that may have been one of the reasons for the watergate break-in. The thugs were after an advance copy of Irving's book to see if some of Nixon's money laundering went through Hughes. Turns out the White House never denied those rumors.

Critters: none

Food: There were several kitchen scenes but mostly they featured coffee, One scene takes place in the Cafe des Artistes and there is much ado over caviar.

Blatant Product Placement: Coca Cola

Soundtrack: Many fine hits of the 70's were steaming through my head.

Opening Titles: Black background with a simple typewriter font.

Visual Art: Edith Irving was a painter so many of her not so fine pictures were featured.

Theater Audience: About 30 other hoax-sters and one snoring man.

Weather: The weather seemed to be always bright and sunny in 1971 and 1972

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I did not drift at all but did some head scratching when the movie steered off course towards the end.

Predictability Level: High - if you know the story.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen is the ay to go for this one. I like director Lasse Hallström. Here are some of his other films for you to rent: Casanova, An Unfinished Life, The Shipping News, Chocolat, The Cider House Rules and What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Length: Just under the two hour Lobo rule.