The Invention of Lying

Well now, my first review of 2010. Shows how damn lazy I am. Want more proof? Can’t even be arsed to do a proper little intro…

The Invention of Lying (2009)


I lie, you lie, he/she/it lies. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but in general terms, everybody lies. Being unable to lie is a concept that has been explored before, most memorably in Liar Liar, but the central idea seemed sound enough to warrant a viewing.

“I loathed almost every minute I worked for you.”

The premise is simple. We are shown a world where people can’t lie. As a result, there is no fiction or art and any films that are released are turgid documentaries. We follow Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) who, inexplicably finds that he has the ability to lie. Unused to the notion of something being not true, everyone blindly believes anything he says. As I said, the concept has been done before, but the one question I kept asking throughout was why people would blurt out their innermost secrets. Being unable to lie is one thing, but keeping your mouth shut is quite another. Yes, this is a nitpick, but when you have a high concept like this, it’s normally the little questions that need to be addressed. Gervais was Gervais- which is fine by me, but if you’re not a fan, I’d steer clear- you’re just going to find the same things you don’t like here. Although he did show more of his dramatic side in this, which proves that he can actually act and hopefully will silence some of his critics. Jennifer Garner managed to be likeable in a really flat role, which is an achievement.

There are some really great ideas present here. I loved the fact that due to Bellison’s truth-twisting ways, the concept of religion is born. The scene where Bellison’s mother is dying and is terrified, so he makes up the concept of an afterlife to comfort her is genuinely moving and made me well up- a very rare thing indeed (i.e. crying at films, not crying in general. I’m not the Terminator…)

Thing is, I didn’t find The Invention of Lying that funny. It had its moments (The bus ad that says “Pepsi: For when they don’t have Coke” springs to mind) , but they were pretty tame. The endless parade of cameos started to really annoy me after a while. Even the scene with the brilliant pairing of Stephen Merchant and “Barry off Eastenders” (Shaun Williamson) was ruined by Merchant wearing a fez, smoking a pipe and mugging in a completely over-the-top fashion.

“I’m a one-armed German space explorer.”

As I said, there really are some great ideas here, but they just don’t gel as well as they should. Most of the “comedy” on display here boils down to simplistic insults, most of them directed at Gervais’ character, but it’s all playground stuff to please the ‘tards. When it came down to it, The Invention of Lying just wasn’t that much fun to watch. Honestly.

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