Reel Shorts | The Invention of Lying

2 10 2009

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After a charming turn in last year’s supernatural comedy, “Ghost Town,” Ricky Gervais returns with an uneven fable about a man who discovers that a little deception can take him a long way in the unsatisfying and slightly offensive story, “The Invention of Lying.”

Gervais’ slightly off-putting comedic style is perfect in this story of a world where not only everyone tells the truth but have no filter allowing everyone, and I mean everyone, says EVERYTHING that is on their minds. Gervais stars as unsuccessful screenwriter Mark Bellison whose life is stuck in neutral. On the verge of being fired from his job and  disrespected by his co-worker, he pines for a his childhood sweetheart, Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner) who seemingly has no interest in him and looking for her perfect biological match.

On the verge of being evicted from his apartment, Mark has an epiphany when he discovers that by bending the truth he can not only save his apartment but get people to do anything he wants. But his life takes a strange and unusual turn comforting his dying mother, he tells her a story that brings her peace but chages his life forever.

Soon, Mark is a modern-day Moses preaching the gospel of the “man in the sky,” laying down his laws and interpreting his will to an eager and receptive public on two tablets . . . on pizza boxes! Overnight, Mark becomes a sensation as the whole world is trying to live by the words and principles of the “man in the sky.”

It is here that the film goes off the rails as the story comically mocks many of the basic beliefs of Christians and their faith. Despite a talented cast including Tina Fey, Rob Lowe and Jonah Hill, while masquerading a clever comedy, the story grows staid and boring. Much like Bill Maher’s shameless documentary, “Religioulous” and this year’s earlier failed comic fable, “Year One,” “The Invention of Lying” is this year’s reverse “Liar, Liar” is another attempt to paint faith-based believers as a bunch of “crazed and clueless Christians.”

While the film’s take home message encourages the audience to simply treat each other better and rely on our own abilities instead of  the unseen “man in the sky,” it’s method run contrary to that belief turning a faith-based message into a fail-fail mythology.  In the story’s grand scheme the film’s biggest flaw is that that not only is the mechanism it employs deceptive, but it’s overall message is a lie in itself!

Grade: C-

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3 responses

3 10 2009
Constant Gina

This was a great movie, I enjoyed waching it with my bf (a compulsive liar).

6 10 2009
Wanda

where is the question that i need to answer to get tickets to an advanced screening?

21 10 2009
Kay Young

Totally satisfying, delightful, full of laughs movie you want to see over and over again.
A man who discovers he has the ability to lie in a society that cannot, takes advantage
of his deceptive ability in a thought provoking manner. A hilarious, abstract depiction of American society. A must see.

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