Friday, October 2, 2009
Ricky Gervais as Mark Bellison in "The Invention
Of Lying", written and directed by Mr. Gervais and
Matthew Robinson. (Photo: Warner Brothers)
This Pinocchio's Last Commandment: Thou
Shall Lie When The World Doesn't
The Invention Of Lying
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Friday, October 2, 2009
"The Invention Of Lying", which opened across the U.S. and Canada today, is
better as an illustration of August's hysterical town hall meetings on
healthcare than as a comedy about deception to simplify and enjoy life.
Ricky Gervais stars, co-writes and co-directs this film with Matthew Robinson,
which for more than half an hour tries to survive on the comic smarts and wit of
Mr. Gervais alone before tumbling like a house of cards.
Mark Bellison (Gervais) is a screenwriter at Lecture Films and is about to be
fired. He's fed up of hearing the bracing truth spoken to his face in a
world that apparently hasn't ever heard of lying before. Desperate and
down following his work exit Mark tries one big fib on, then another, then
But alas, his nose doesn't grow any longer.
"The Invention Of Lying" relies chiefly on the stupidity of the American
populace depicted in it. No one asks common-sense or logical questions in
this hair-brained comic fantasy filled with a bright-light vacancy and a
messianic streak somewhat at odds with the cherubic, everyman style of Mr.
Gervais, who was great a year ago in his brilliant debut feature film
"Ghost Town". Here, the story fails because there's nothing for
the audience to sink its teeth into. There's little at stake for any one
involved. Every character whether unassuming or otherwise, is bizarrely
plastic. Jennifer Garner's skills are wasted, just as they were in "Ghosts
Of Girlfriends Past" back in May. (Tina Fey also has little to do here in
a small role as Bellison's secretary.) And no order of cameos by
recognizable American actors can save "Invention" either -- cameos that try to
hide the fact that here threadbare is very much the comfort zone for Mr. Gervais,
whereas his original British television comedy series "The Office" always took
chances. Mr. Gervais knows how to authenticate emotion and despair though,
and a subpar Ricky Gervais is still better on most days than many comedic
There have been similar comedies like "Liar Liar", Jim Carrey's 2002 film which
begins with Mr. Carrey's lawyer character lying his face off and later telling
the truth, the reverse of the arc of Mr. Gervais's character. "Liar Liar"
was pure comic madcap tomfoolery that made for some gutbusting in the aisles.
(Mr. Carrey last year played a man who couldn't help but say yes in
Man".) "The Invention Of Lying" by comparison, and standing on
its own, recycles itself and becomes repetitive when it could have challenged
itself by taking its premises and themes that much further, even to
controversial effect. But then perhaps it wouldn't have been a comedy
anymore. Early on there's promise but when the hour mark arrives a movie
that should wind down quickly burns out its welcome.
With: Louis C.K., Rob Lowe, Jeffrey Tambor, Jonah Hill, Fionnula Flanagan, Ruben
Santiago-Hudson and a few other actors you'll recognize fairly quickly.
"The Invention Of Lying" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of
America for language, including some sexual material and a drug reference.
The film's duration is one hour and 40 minutes.
unscripted YouTube review of "The Invention Of Lying"
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