Directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson
Starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, and a variety of odd cameos
Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 3.5/5
Word of Warning: This is not a slap-stick, laugh riot. This is not “Bruce Almighty.” Gervais has a dry sense of humor. People either get him, or don’t get him.
If you’ve seen “Ghost Town,” another one of Gervais’ films, you will have a better understanding of what type of movie you are about to get into with “The Invention of Lying.” Our audience was ready to laugh their butts off, but this movie didn’t prove to be the chuckle factory they were hoping for. Basically, I think Ricky Gervais is a comic genius, but his style of comedy, dry, British wit, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
“The Invention of Lying” takes place in an alternate universe. It is much the same as our world today, but there is one drastic difference. No one lies. There is no such thing as deceit, a half-truth or white lies.
In this universe, everyone says exactly what they are thinking when they are thinking it. I can sum up this alternate universe in one word: brutal. It wouldn’t be a good place for the easily offended, except no one in this universe is offended because they are use to blatant honesty. For instance, when a waiter tells Gervais he is way out of his league by trying to date Jennifer Garner, the audience winces, but the characters go on as if nothing is out of the ordinary.
Ricky Gervais plays Mark Bellison, a struggling screenplay writer, who discovers he has an ability no one else on the planet has – the ability to lie. It’s such a new ability there are no words for it.
One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when Mark tries out he new ability on his bartender (played by a rotund Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his best friend Greg (Louis C.K.). They believe anything he tells them without question or concern. It’s funny for the audience and exasperating for Mark.
Mark decides he should put this new skill to good use, and because people will believe anything he says, he can utilize these lies to get everything he wants, at least, that’s the plan.
Jennifer Garner plays Anna McDoogles, a beautiful executive and the object of Mark’s desire. Garner is the sugar in this sometimes-biting comedy. Her character lightens up the screen and works as the perfect anecdote to Mark’s snarky personality.
“The Invention of Lying” delves into an assortment of themes, including society’s obsession with beauty, bullying, and even the after life, and somewhere in the mix there is a message, but I’ll let you sort that out for yourself.
This movie is definitely worth a matinee price, and if you are a big fan of Gervais, it may even be worth full price. But don’t go expecting a Jim Carrey sort of comedy.
Note: There was a gaggle of ten-year olds sitting behind us, whose parents probably were expecting something entirely different. The kids were surprisingly good, despite the slow moving nature of the movie, which is more than I can say for the sixty year olds to our right who spent the entire movie conversing about Jennifer Garner and all her previous roles. For those of you who don’t get out to the movies much, there is an old-fashion rule at the movie theater – No Talking.