OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: THE INVENTION OF LYING takes place in an alternate reality in which lying--even the concept of a lie--does not 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 (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. But lies have a way of spreading, and Mark begins to realize that things are getting a little out of control when some of his tallest tales are being taken as, well, gospel. With the entire world now hanging on his every word, there is only one thing Mark has not been able to lie his way into: the heart of the woman he loves.
RELEASE DATE: October 2, 2009
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson
CAST: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, et al.
OFFICIAL SITE: THE-INVENTION-OF-LYING.COM
Havenít you ever wished people would stop lying -- to you, to others, to themselves? That the insincerity, exaggeration, and unnecessary flattery would cease, that theyíd put the bullshit to rest and just tell it like it is?
In Ricky Gervaisí THE INVENTION OF LYING, people do just that.
In this alternate reality, no one lies. Not because of some pervading sense of morality, however. Lying just doesnít exist; they have no concept of such a thing. Truth is spoken by everyone, their thoughts becoming words, expressed without editing or reconsideration. No one worries about hurting anyone elseís feelings. Itís full disclosure whether replying to a mother that her baby isnít actually cute or your date revealing over dinner, not her goals, but that she, in fact, has a pretty severe case of gonorrhea.
Honesty is shared with no thought to the consequences.
No one is spared.
Especially Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais).
Forty, overweight, and single, with no redeeming qualities, means that Bellison is seemingly shit out of luck. Heís average, a loser in his romantic life and at the workplace. He does manage to land a date for the first time with his longtime crush, Anna (Jennifer Gardner) knowing however that she is out of his league. Physical appearances and wealth matter most in this world, and as Mark has neither, she cuts him down. The likelihood of a second date looks bleak (his genetics donít meet her standards) though she does admit to enjoying his company. No one believes him to be an asset. A writer for documentary films, where a person reads historical facts on camera covering each century, (with no fiction, these are the only type of movies) Mark eventually gets fired. Itís been a long time coming. His sardonic assistant Shelley (Tina Faye) doesnít respect him, and his coworker Brad (Rob Lowe) is handsome, more successful, and a better writer, (doesnít help that he gets the better centuries, either), downright hates Mark. Discovering that he can tell something ďthat isnít,Ē he fixes his living situation (evicted after being laid off), and bored, he effectively convinces a woman to sleep with, and accompany him to ďA Cheap Place to Have Intercourse with a Near StrangerĒ AKA a motel, but soon realizes he doesnít have the gall to go through with it. Bradís the asshole, not him. He uses his powers for good, helping his best friend and other people. However, after his most poignant lie to his dying mother, leaks to the public, he has to further elaborate to his newfound followers. A prophet is now among them.
The first half hour, the opening scenes with Gardner and Gervais especially, are indeed the funniest. The rest of the film does attempt to keep up with its initial well-written and delivered dialogue, but it doesnít quite retain that level of clever hilarity. Gervais and Gardner portray these roles with well, honesty. It isnít a bit contrived. Gardnerís deadpan and Gervaisí expressions and physical mannerisms are spot on; comedic timing is never an issue. Gardner though maintaining the shallowness of her character at the get-go shows some moving moments in response to grappling with her dilemma. The advertisements and signs, which I really enjoyed, contribute so much to this movie, underscoring the tone. Much of the film concerns Gervaisí endeavors to secure a relationship with Gardner while having to compete with Brad for her attention. He wants to get the girl, but he has that obstacle to contend with, and it doesnít seem hopeful. Both beautiful and well off, Brad and Anna, are the ideal couple. They just downright look good together. Itís a story about the underdog intertwined with a love story. But the story centers around lies, relies on them for its sustainment, and the biggest one, turns out to be Christianity. Serendipity causes Mark to stumble upon religion, inventing Heaven and ďThe Big Man in the Sky,Ē to appease the masses worrying about an existence after death. Some of his foray into this territory wasnít too funny or, clever, at least; not fitting into the format he had previously established earlier on in the film. It was a though someone was winking at you, ďGet it?! Get it?!Ē In spite of that, religionís inclusion into this film is subversive and thereby refreshing. It will shock and offend many, and thatís a good thing.
All the same, I hope for my ďmansion in the skyĒ, and regardless of my beliefs, I still managed to walk out of the theatre with a smile.