full Movie Review The Invention of Lying (2009)
The Invention of Lying (2009)
Directed by: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Written by: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill
As a movie-watcher, the greatest tragedy is to see a magnificent concept with tremendous potential being miserably wasted on screen or, as in this case, left grossly under-utilised. The Invention of lying takes place in an alternate reality where people are unaware of the concept of lying. As the movie progresses, it is revealed that the ignorance isn’t simply restricted to lying but also the concepts of pretending or hiding anything from a fellow human being. So initially it results in quite a few hilarious sequences as our protagonist, screenplay-writer Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) visits his woman of dreams Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner) for taking her out to the ‘date of a lifetime’. Anna admits candidly that she dreads going out with him and that Mark has practically no chance with her since mating with the man will most likely produce ‘little fat kids with snub-noses.’ (“Now, that was extremely funny!” my co-watcher asserts.)
Also heard is this particular dialogue:
Anna: “I was just masturbating“
Mark: “That… makes me think of your vagina”
(“Now, that’s a little ‘eww!'” says my sensitive co-watcher)
Ricky Gervais is good. He near-effortlessly portrays a character that was probably written with Gervais himself in mind. But this sort of a character, termed by the theater-prowling public as ‘loser’ and which has been recently portrayed by many other actors like Seth Rogen, Steve Carell, Michael Cera, is becoming a rather cliched stock. Gervais, though good, brings nothing new to the table and is the same insecure, not-so-successful, lovelorn fellow so abundantly seen (and loved) in nearly every movie from the ‘Judd Apatow’ camp (“I hate those movies” my co-watcher groans. I love them!)
The movie takes a fairly interesting turn when Mark becomes the first person in the world to lie. After getting kicked off his job, rejected by Anne and failing to pay his apartment rent, he goes to the bank to withdraw his leftover 300 dollars. The accountant asks him his account balance since the ‘computer is down’. In a moment’s split decision, Mark makes a momentous alteration to the truth and declares almost surreptitiously, “800 dollars!” Incidentally, the computer comes back to life a second later and the accountant finds out that his balance is only 300 dollars; but since nobody has an idea that a person can speak anything ‘other’ than the truth, the accountant simply assumes the computer malfunctioned in some way, and gives Mark his 800 dollars.
Mark shoots to fame after he is overheard consoling his dying mother with tall, made-up stories of a magical place after death. People all over the world assume he has ‘information of what happens after death’ and his made up stories about ‘a guy in the sky’ deciding people’s fates make him an instant celebrity.
The movie does succeed as a partial social commentary and even questions the very basic beliefs of people, especially in the scene where Mark is dressed remarkably like Jesus Christ. It questions the very definition of a ‘lie’ and makes us wonder, at times, whether we really are aware of what is the truth and what is not! This movie certainly delves deep, but in a very shallow manner. It is funny at places, but somehow viewers are left feeling cheated at the end of the film. A cliched climax scenario doesn’t help matters much either, nor do the cameos of stars such as Jason Bateman, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Edward Norton. Jennifer Garner’s character is nothing different than any others’ in the film and has that funny feeling of being an ‘extra’, quite like her latest apperance in ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’.
The movie begins promisingly, but fails to cash in on its unique premise. Though entertaining, it leaves one with a feeling that it just could’ve been so much more better… (“I liked the ‘sort of’ British-comedy, actually.” my co-watcher asserts. “Watch Edgar Wright next time.” I advise her)