The Invention of Lying

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film features a high concept narrative set in an alternate reality in which there is no such thing as lying and everything said is the absolute truth. In this world people make blunt, often cruel statements, including those that people would normally keep to themselves. There is a lack of religious belief, and the absence of fiction results in a movie industry limited to lecture-style historical readings, and advertisements as bluntly truthful as the people are.

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is an unsuccessful lecture-film writer who is assigned to write about the 1300s, a “very boring” era. One night he goes out on a date with the beautiful, charming and wealthy Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). She tells Mark she is not attracted to him, due to his looks and unsuccessful financial situation, but is going out with him to satisfy her extremely prejudicial mother and as a favour to Mark’s friend Greg Kleinschmidt (Louis C.K.).

The next day Mark is fired from his job due to lack of interest in his films, and his landlord evicts him for not paying his rent. Depressed, he goes to the bank to close his account. The teller informs him that the computers are down, and asks him how much money he has in his account. Mark has an epiphany and tells the world’s first lie, that he has $800 in his account. The computer comes back online and shows his balance is $300 but the teller gives him the full $800 anyway, assuming that the computer made a mistake.

Mark then lies in a variety of other circumstances, including telling an attractive woman that the world will end unless they have sex, preventing a police officer (Edward Norton in a cameo) from arresting his friend Greg for DUI, getting money from a casino, and stopping his neighbour Frank Fawcett (Jonah Hill) from committing suicide. He then writes a screenplay about the world being invaded by aliens in the 14th century and that the memories of all humans were erased. He becomes wealthy from the success of the film which he named “The Black Plague.”

Mark convinces Anna to go out with him again hoping she will see past his looks and weight now that he is financially secure. On their date Anna congratulates Mark for his success and admits that he would be a good husband and father. She is still not attracted to him because if they ever have children Mark would contribute half of the heredity to their children, making them “fat kids with snub noses” and Anna does not want that. Mark then gets a call that his mother had a heart attack and rushes to the hospital. There, the doctor (Jason Bateman) tells him that his mother is going to die. She is terrified of death, believing that death will bring an eternity of nothingness. Mark, through tears, tells her that death instead brings a joyful afterlife, introducing the concept of a Heaven to her, and she dies happy while the doctors and nurses appear awed by what he says.

Mark soon receives worldwide attention for his supposed new information about death. Under pressure from Anna, he tells them, through “ten rules”, he talks to a “Man In The Sky” who controls everything and promises great rewards in the good place after you die so long as you do no more than three “bad things.” Some time later Anna and Mark are hanging out together in a park and Anna asks him if they marry would being rich and famous make their children not fat with snub noses. Mark wants to lie but doesn’t because of his feelings for Anna.

Meanwhile Mark’s rival Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe) pursues Anna romantically, motivated because of Mark’s success. However Brad’s blunt, rude manner makes Anna uncomfortable though she continues dating him; they become engaged. Anna invites Mark to the wedding. Mark tries to convince her to not marry Brad but fails. Anna goes to the park she first went to with Mark and sees a slightly overweight child with an ice cream when some thinner boys come and mush his ice cream into his shirt. She yells at them and then they run away. She runs up to the boy and wipes away his tears while asking his name. He replies ‘Short Fat Brian’ to which she tells him: ‘you are so much more than just that.’

Before the wedding Mark’s friend Greg shows up and tells him that he didn’t lose her yet and Mark reluctantly attends Anna and Brad’s wedding. There, he objects to the marriage, but the officiant informs him that only the Man in the Sky can stop the wedding. Brad and Anna both ask Mark to ask the Man in the Sky what Anna should do but Mark refuses to say anything and leaves, wanting Anna to choose for herself. Anna walks out and Mark confesses his ability to lie and that the Man In The Sky he told everyone about was made up. Anna struggles to comprehend the concept and asks why he didn’t lie to convince her to marry him; Mark states that it “wouldn’t count.” Anna confesses that she loves him.

Some time later, the now-pregnant Anna and Mark are shown married with a son, who has learned his father’s ability to lie

REVIEW:

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone told nothing but the truth? Well, that is the world that The Invention of Lying is set in.

I’ve been postponing this film every week since it was released on DVD, thinking it might be nothing more than another one of those dramedy flicks that seem to be becoming more and more prevalent. I won’t say this isn’t one of those, but it does start off hilarious, especially when you think about the fact that these people can do nothing bt tell the truth.

The bluntness of these people is hilarious to us, but to them it is just everyday conversations. For instance, Jennifer Garner flat-out tells Ricky Gervais that she’s not attracted to him and he’s fat and has a snub nose. Granted, these kind of things happen today in our society, but for some reason, the way she said it was funny.

The plot of this film is something that we don’t see very often…an original story! Kudos to Ricky Gervais for coming up with this. I actually thought this may have been a book, Twilight Zone episode, or short story, but apparently not.

The acting here is a little dry for my taste. That is not to say that it is bad, it just is that humor that Gervais brought to audiences with the original The Office and tends to do in everything he does. For me, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Here, it works initially, then fades away and becomes more of a nuisance than anything.

I mention how the film starts out hilarious than tapers off. I’m not sure if that is because the joke gets old, or if it does indeed turn more towards the drama angle, but whatever the reason, it deeply affects the film, which is truly a shame, because if they wold have kept up the pace and tone of the first part of the film, this could have been great.

Instead, in typical Gervais fashion, they have to go and smack society in the face with our shortcomings and such and his character is the one that is the one to start it all. Don;t even get me started on that whole Jesus beard he had going near the end.

I must mention that Rob Lowe does play a pretty good douchebag slimeball villain. Of course, this character is actually not much different that the one he played in Wayne’s World, so it should come as no surprise. The guy does bring something different to the table when he’s on screen, though.

Would I recommend The Invention of Lying? Yes, but I wouldn’t go rush out to find it. Nothing about this film is memorable. Hell, I just finished watching it and already I’ve forgotten about a good chunk of it! Still, I did enjoy and think this is worth a viewing or two.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: