The Invention of Lying
In an alternate world where everyone tells the absolute truth and has no concept of falsehood, one man, Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) discovers that he can lie. Initially there is the potential for a good comedy; however, what the film delivers are just occasional laughs which become increasingly monotonous as the film goes on. Not only does everyone tell the truth, but they also seem to volunteer revealing truths regarding their thoughts and previous actions; “I was just masturbating” is Anna’s (Jennifer Garner) fairly casual second statement to Bellison within 5 minutes of meeting him – not the work of comedy gold.
Bellison is classed as a “snub-nosed, fat loser” and so is immediately cast aside by Anna as a non-suitable social and genetic match. Upon discovering his unique ability to lie, he sets out to improve his life and get the girl of his dreams. To begin with he exploits his ability to lie for his own personal gain; attaining money and getting his job back.
The film peaks after several cheesy montages in which we see Bellison magically saving lives and making people happy through lying; the scenes that follow are fairly tedious and offer nothing more than a repeat of jokes gone by. A quirky, clever feature of the film which offers the most humour is the portrayal of a truthful media. This of course takes away any fictional films, instead people watch monologues of events from the past. Adverts are also amusingly honest; Pepsi is “for when they don’t have Coke” and Coke is “just brown sugary water.”
In a relatively moving scene in the hospital with his mother, Bellison invents an afterlife. As more people want to know what he knows Bellison reveals that he talks to a “man in the sky” and invents God, Heaven and Hell. This is controversially portrayed as essentially the biggest lie of the human race and could therefore hit a few religious nerves, although sarcasm and taboo humour are often expected of Gervais.
This film is loaded with cameos, from Rob Lowe to Edward Norton as a kooky, bent cop. However this does not make the film any more likeable and although these actors give fairly comical performances it doesn’t really add substance to the movie’s flat humour and reoccurring jokes.
The film attempts to incorporate a similar style of awkward situations that made the Office so funny but the wit is just not strong enough to sustain the humour in this film and unfortunately many fans of the Office or Gervais’ hilarious stand-up will most likely be disappointed with this quite slow and repetitive comedy.