The StoryCan you even imagine a world where every single person tells nothing but the truth? Nothing is sugar-coated and no one's feelings are spared. I don't think that's a world I'd want to live in, that's for sure. Even commercials and feature films only spout facts. You should buy Coke because it's famous. Pepsi's good when they don't have Coke. You get the point.
Gervais plays Mark, an unfortunate, unpopular, unlucky screenwriter saddled with having to bring the 1300s to the big screen in an entertaining - yet truthful - way. The Black Plague isn't the most lighthearted of stories and Mark's on the verge of being fired on a daily basis, until one day his boss really does pull the plug on his employment situation. Jobless, practically broke, and with an ailing mom in a nursing home ("A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People" according to the building's sign), Mark heads to the bank to pull out the last of his money. But while talking to the bank teller he makes the discovery of a lifetime - he can lie.
The CastTaken separately, Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner were both fine in their roles - Garner's deadpan delivery of some outlandish lines during the film's first 10 minutes was absolutely hysterical. But together there's zero chemistry. Supporting performances by Rob Lowe as Gervais' rival at work and for the heart of Garner, Louis C.K. as Gervais' frumpy best friend, Tina Fey as Gervais' not supportive at all assistant, and Fionnula Flanagan as Gervais' sick mom are all terrific. There's also a batch of big name actors appearing in cameos who all liven up the film during their brief but memorable moments on screen. The cast isn't really at fault in this one; it's the material that lets them down for the last half of the movie.
The Bottom LineGervais and Robinson take on organized religion, even going as far as to create new Commandments (with pizza boxes substituting for stone tablets). That actually worked for me, though it's likely to polarize audiences. At least Gervais and Robinson go there and don't back off. Kudos for that.
Still, it's not a bad movie, just one that doesn't provide as many laughs and as much entertainment as you'd hope given the film's set-up and great start.
The Invention of Lying was co-directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson and is rated PG-13 for language including some sexual material and a drug reference.
Theatrical Release Date: October 2, 2009