The Invention Of Lying

 
Directed by: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Written by:Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Rob Lowe, Tina Fey
Released: November 26, 2009
Grade: C+

The Invention Of Lying is set in a world where everyone tells the truth.  There’s no such thing as a lie.  You’ll see what I mean in the very opening sequence.  Mark Bellison (Gervais) goes on a date with the girl of his dreams, Anna McDoogles (Garner).  There’s no need to worry about what the other person is thinking because you hear it straight from their own mouth.  Mark confesses his love for Anna.  Anna describes how repulsive she finds Mark and that this date is likely to go nowhere.  Harsh but fair.

Mark’s life is about to improve greatly however when he learns how to lie.  He can say whatever he wants and people will believe him.  It all starts at a bank when the teller says he only has $300 left in his account.  Mark says it must be a computer error and that he thought it was $800.  The teller apologises for the error and pays him the larger sum.  No questions asked.  This could be the start of something big and Mark’s chances with Anna are set to improve.

It’s an interesting premise but after about 20 minutes, the novelty wore off.  There’s only so far you can take this idea.  This might have made a good short film but it struggles into a full length feature.  It slipped off the rails when Mark speaks to his dying mother in a hospital.  He tells her of a wonderful world which exists in the afterlife.  She’ll be blissfully happy and own her own mansion.

Mark is overheard by the hospital staff and soon enough, he’s front page news.  Everyone wants to know about heaven and Mark suddenly develops a god-like status.  How long can he keep this charade going?  Too long if you ask me.

Ricky Gervais is the one of the funniest entertainers today.  A few weeks ago, he was announced as the host of the 2010 Golden Globe Awards.  I’m sure he’ll do an awesome job.  Gervais is also highly regarded in Hollywood.  The Invention Of Lying includes cameos from the likes of Jason Bateman, Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  These guys don’t just lend their services to anyone.  They appear here because they’re fans of Gervais.

He was funny in The Office, he was funny in Extras but sorry, he’s just not funny here.  There are some weird subplots also.  One involves a suicidal neighbour (played by Jonah Hill).  Another involves a strange series of movies churned out by the movie company where Mark works.  Why do they simply read stories as opposed to acting them out?  I didn’t think acting constituted lying.

I do have the power to lie (thankfully) but I swear, I’m telling the truth here.  The Invention Of Lying was not as good as I thought it would be.