The Invention of Lying
Ricky Gervais attempts to make a smart comedy with an interesting concept, but sadly it doesn’t hold together. The Invention of Lying doesn’t exactly know what it wants to be. However, the attempt is still noteworthy, I would like to see more movies try to tackle similar themes.
In this world, people are unable to lie. The entire human race simply tells the truth all the time. People say what is completely on their minds, and everyone is okay with it. One man (Gervais) discovers that he can tell a lie. He uses this knowledge to his advantage in his life and the lives of the loved ones around him.
First off, Rick Gervais is brilliant as Mark Bellison. Gervais always handles awkwardness like a true craftsman, and this movie is full of awkward moments. Probably some of the best moments are the Jennifer Garner blind-date scenes. To be fair, this Bellison role isn’t that far removed from his role on Extras. He is a TV writer for one of the Broadcast Networks.
Speaking of Networks, TV shows consist of people sitting in front of cameras and reading historical scripts. And, the TV ads have people telling you how they really feel about the products. This world-building stuff is very interesting and I would have loved to see more of it before Gervais discovered lying. I also enjoyed noticing that everyone in this world seems to only wear drab colors, and the artwork is very Spartan. There is no such thing as the idea of fiction in this world. And, Gervais does a good job showing us the limits of a total truthful world.
What didn’t work for me was the clashing of the movie themes. The first half of the movie seems to ride steady with a romantic comedy vibe, but switches gears into a high concept story about religion and death. Gervais’ character actually creates a religion and it dives into the positives and negatives that come with a new religion. The problem is that neither story is fully explored because they are both shortchanged. It is because they have to share a movie together. Gervais attempts to cover too much ground for a 99-minute movie.
Jennifer Garner is the other problem with the movie. Garner tries her hardest to bring some heart to an otherwise flat and dry character. Her character comes across little petty and a bit rude even for a world based on truthfulness. I wanted to like Garner’s character but she is under-written because of the clashing themes.
In many ways, Invention of Lying is bold with some of its ideas with religion and death, but then it tries to hard to also be a romantic comedy as well. Both crowds will feel a little cheated. Invention of Lying isn’t bad movie; it is just not what I wanted out of a Gervais joint.