Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Invention Of Lying (2009)

The Truth Hurts

- Ricky Gervais is a funny man - and having enjoyed the UK version of "The Office" and Ghost Town (2008), I thought the Gervais co-written and co-directed The Invention Of Lying would be right up my alley. I was wrong.

Set in a world that is populated by a human race whose primal nature is to not lie, Mark Bellison (Gervais) often bears the brunt of the painful truth. Rather than keeping their thoughts to themselves, people (most often women) tell Mark how fat and ugly he is, how much they hate him, or how he will never have a shot with them. After being fired from his screen writing job (only historical stories read by narrators exist in film, anything else would be a lie.... I guess) Mark suddenly says something that is not: the first lie. This gets him fame, fortune, girls, and.... trouble.

After starting off amusing and engaging, The Invention Of Lying quickly grinds to a halt after the novelty of the no-lying world wears off. One soon realizes that this world is not so much a world in which people simply cannot lie as it is a world where the majority of the planet's population are mean, selfish, and unemotional people who say whatever they are thinking all of the time. This aspect of the film rubs me the wrong way because of two main reasons:

First of all, the entire human race is not this selfish and mean. One gets a clear idea of how little the filmmakers think of their fellow human beings through the depiction of people in this film but it also makes the film feel incredibly shallow, even in its attempt at a meaningful main theme. Throughout the film, people begin to learn that the truth hurts and that lying is sometimes necessary. However, never once does anyone in the film ever really learn that *lying* also hurts which makes any lessons learned feel incomplete.

Secondly, is it really a lie if people keep their inner monologues to themselves?

No matter what the answer is, after everything is said and done The Invention Of Lying is a tiresome, frustrating comedy. At about a third of the way through the film the jokes stop being funny and the film quickly turns into a very unfunny series of sketches loosely stitched together by a seemingly never ending chain of music montages. On top of it all, The Invention Of Lying reveals itself to be ridiculously anti-religion which does little to vindicate the filmmakers' personal atheistic views but much to insult and alienate much of is viewing audience. Charming.

Overall, The Invention Of Lying was a big misstep for the talented Ricky Gervais; but I have faith that he will bounce back sooner rather than later.

CBC Rating: 4/10

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