the fresh films reviews

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The Invention of Lying (2009)

Ricky Gervais
Matthew Robinson
The Invention of Lying
100 minutes
Ricky Gervais
Dan Lin
Lynda Obst
Oly Obst
Ricky Gervais
Matthew Robinson

Cast includes:

Mark Bellison Ricky Gervais
Anna McDoogles Jennifer Garner
Brad Kessler Rob Lowe ½
Greg Kleinschmidt Louis C.K.
Frank Fawcett Jonah Hill ½
Nathan Goldfrappe Christopher Guest
Shelley Bailey Tina Fey
Anthony James Jeffrey Tambor
Martha Bellison Fionnula Flanagan
Doctor Jason Bateman
Jim the Bartender Philip Seymour Hoffman
Traffic Cop Edward Norton



Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is an unsuccessful, lonely screenwriter living in a parallel world which is very similar to ours except for one thing: the concept of lying does not exist. And so people go around naïvely believing everything they hear while constantly hurting each other with blunt comments. Now, in addition to not being able to say anything untruthful, these people are also - for some reason - compelled to say exactly what they're thinking, which makes the world presented here resemble a day-care centre more than it resembles a refined realm of higher ethical standards, but what the heck.

Of course, it's exactly this which makes the comedy tick, and writer/director Gervais is in a frenzy trying to milk his concept in the film's first half. The fresh angle and an array of great jokes makes this part of the film surprisingly effective. And when Gervais' character suddenly, as the first person in the world, discovers that it's possible to say things which aren't true, he embarks on a rampage in order to con his way to some money, his old job back, and - hopefully - the girl of his dreams who has recently rejected him for not living up to her genetic standards.

Gervais the actor keeps his likable persona busy, and as usual he is worth a look, even when the script begins to wobble. Because when the novelty and fun of the film's undoubtedly creative concept begins to wane, The Invention of Lying hasn't got much of a script to fall back on. Gervais, and his partner in crime behind the camera, Matthew Robinson, resort to a remarkably vapid and unromantic romance between Gervais and Jennifer Garner plus a handful of fun cameos from some of Hollywood's finest performers. The latter is fun enough, the former basically kills whatever zest the film had left. And once it becomes clear that the mildly amusing and well-directed satire on religion is overshadowed by the fact that the people in this world are more stupid, shallow and inconsiderate than they are unable to lie, the film's thematic relevance accompanies the comedy out the door.

Copyright © 5.3.2012 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang