Review: The Invention of Lying (2009)
Director: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson.
Screenwriter: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson.
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Louis C.K., Tina Fey, Christopher Guest, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hodgman, Jonah Hill, Stephen Merchant.
Synopsis: The Invention of Lying takes place in an alternate reality in which lying—even the concept of a lie—does not even exist. Everyone—from politicians to advertisers to the man and woman on the street—speaks the truth and nothing but the truth with no thought of the consequences. But when a down-on-his-luck loser named Mark (Ricky Gervais) suddenly develops the ability to lie, he finds that dishonesty has its rewards. In a world where every word is assumed to be the absolute truth, Mark easily lies his way to fame and fortune.
In a world where no one lies, Ricky Gervais just did. He does it again and again and bares the consequences. Small white lies to put a smile on people’s faces, to give them hope, to more selfish lies in order to earn a few more dollars or a bigger house. Sound familiar? Yes, that is today’s world. In this world that Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson created, there is no religion. Not everyone wanted to give the movie a pass with that concept, so of course without really understanding what the film is saying, people hate it for that reason, see here and here.
The film has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, shocking even. Jennifer Garner’s best role to date, she even steal the movie early on with a line that she apparently improvised. Gervais is on top form with him uncomfortable mannerisms that make us love him so. For the time spent with Louis C.K and Jonah Hill, it left me wanting more. I enjoyed the cameos (bar scene, police officer).
I hate to do this, but the film has its flaws. This is supposed to be a parallel universe where lying had not been invented until Gervais invents it, if that’s the case why does Gervais look shocked half the time when people insult him by telling the truth about him? He didn’t just land there. Also, why does each character need to blurt out exactly what they’re thinking? This is not the same as having to speak the truth. Maybe it should have been called “The Invention of not constantly talking and sharing thoughts”.
The end result is an entertaining and thought provoking movie ultimately urges the viewer to consider how important the truth is and where lies fit in to our lives. Despite its flaws, The Invention of Lying is Gervais’ best film outing to date. It shows that he has the intelligence to go for invention and originality. I can’t wait for Cemetery Junction (trailer here) to arrive, a less Hollywood outing; something I think made Gervais so popular in the first place.