The Invention of Lying Reviews
The love story arc of Anna figuring out what she wants in a mate is well-paced with a nice moment of her defending the chubby kid who got ice cream smashed in his face by the better-gened kids. Mark's weepy moment of describing a Kindergartener's conception of Heaven to his frightened, dying mother is lovely, but the rest of his Christian scripture is a bit slapstick, and I was disappointed that the movie didn't make more of a comment on spiritual solace, the truth and lies of religion, and Truth's partner: Consequences.
Ricky Gervais does his cheeky hosting bit in the proselytizing scenes, but he actually gets rather endearing and emotional throughout the movie. I do love seeing PSH in oafish comedic roles, and I'm digging Louis C.K.'s Above Average Schmo schtick more and more. Jennifer Garner is also requisitely frosty and vapid, then tender and sweet.
I especially dig Anna's deleted scene monologue of her appeal, which says so much about real-life Millennial women, female romantic leads in movies, and Anna's own character who just comes off as flatly bitchy at first: "In fact, there are very few things in life I care that much about. The only things I have to offer myself, or anyone else are my good looks and my affected sense of quirkiness which artistically inclined men interpret as intellect. I think my best trait is the fact that I've made very few mistakes. Socially, academically, financially, romantically. I take very few risks and therefore lead a relatively happy, light-hearted existence. Mostly though, I am a kind, sweet person with the potential of genuinely becoming a vital and interesting human being the day I take the energy I expend on hyper-self-reflexivity and apply it to actual action in the reality of my life."
Even as a nonsensical comedy it fails to deliver, what with the whole "no lying" humor completely losing it's zing after the first 15 minutes of non-stop insults.
Just an overall disappoint from all stand points.
The Invention of Lying is one of the most original films I've seen for a long time. From the brilliant mind of Ricky Gervais, comes a film set in a world where nobody lies, until a loser (Gervais) invents lying and soon becomes the most coercive and compelling man in the world. After a "little white lie" that he expresses to his mom on her death bed, the whole world is looking up to him, expecting great quality of him, and his ideas.
The casting was very unusual, it starred Ricky Gervais as Mark Bellison, Jennifer Garner as Anna McDoogles, Louis C.K. as Greg, Rob Lowe as Brad Kessler, Jonah Hill as Frank, Jeffrey Tambor as Anthony, Fionnula Flanagan as Martha Bellison, Tina Fey as Shelley, and Christopher Guest as Nathan Goldfrappe. Even though it's a quirky cast, it was well executed.
Normally, I wouldn't discuss the script, but I'm giving myself an exception. The script for this film was one of the funniest I've ever seen. It's not flawless, but it's good enough to keep the audience well entertained. Sure it's incredibly predictable, but who cares?
Obviously, the acting cannot be taken seriously. As for Ricky Gervais, I don't care if he plays the same role in his films, he's downright hilarious! This is one of the most underrated films of all time. It's at least good for a one time watch.
Gervais' character, Mark Bellison, apparently has a misfiring synapse when he lies for the first time, and it surprises him as much as it would anybody. But once he realizes the import of what he's done, he keeps doing it, trying to use his powers for good, with some hilarious (and some disastrous) results.
I wondered about the premise before seeing the movie. What would the "ban" on lying include? As it turns out, the authors went whole hog. When they say no one's ever lied in this world, they mean *in any way*. No fictional stories, no lies by omission, no intentional deceit, and no religion. Basically the rule on this imaginary world has always been: you can't say anything that *isn't*. No one's ever thought of doing such a thing. So, if two people tell you two different things, then one of them is mistaken.
The story starts of hilariously, with Gervais' and Jennifer Garner's characters meeting for a date. She's hot, and he's dumpy. They waste no time telling each other this, in all honesty, including their doubts and worries about the date. Flattery doesn't exist, because it's a form of lying. Keeping silent to spare someone's feelings is also lying, and so has never been done.
Think of all the things that wouldn't exist if no one had ever said anything that wasn't true... For instance, words like true, untrue, belief, unbelievable, fiction, lying, etc. -- none of those words can exist. There are no churches, no novels. All movies are historical or documentary. All news shows only tell the truth.
When Bellison suddenly realizes he can say things that don't agree with reality, he quickly learns what power that holds, both for good and evil. He can walk into a bank and tell them he has quite a bit of money in his bank account -- they'll assume their computers have made a mistake.
In the course of the story, Bellison learns how to make people feel better about themselves by telling little white lies. He invents fictional movies, and later religion. Religion came naturally, because everyone was scared of the nothingness that comes after death. He assured them that good things would follow death, at least for good people.
Religious people are unlikely to enjoy the movie, since it gets to the heart of why most early religions were started -- to cure that fear of life and fear of the unknown after death (besides the ability to control large groups of people).
To sum up this is a well-thought out and well-executed movie. The funny parts are really funny, and the sad parts are really sad. Worth a look if your in the mood for something different.
I wondered, though, that the world in which there is no lying has all the trappings and technologies of our own. In our world, everybody lies. Without exception. Everybody lies. And wouldn't a world where something so innate is so radically different be substantively changed? How do you elect honest politicians? Did Kennedy die? Did the government tell the truth about it? I'm probably taking the film's premise farther than the filmmakers want me to take it, but it's an interesting reflection nonetheless.
Overall, the film is well-made, and I had no idea that Gervais was as good a dramatic actor as he is. There are moments when he is true and emotionally effective.
Is lying bad? Can lying be good? I dont like people who lie to me, most especially about the small teeny weeny things, cuz if you can lie to me about those then what more about the big stuff? This movie makes lying seem to be a good thing IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS, and then it mixes it with a light jab of an aetheists view of religion and my aunties views about partnership and marriage (Genetics, oh you know old people and their views about how things should be..).
Twas quite enjoyable ^_^
Most folks probably hated this cuz it does give out this message that "Oh, its okay to lie." -- Im not gonna go into the whole debate thing. Just watch it if you like the trailer, if not, then dont! :P!
Said premise is that there exists a fairy tale world wherein the populace are simply not wired to even consider telling a falsehood (in fact, they don't even have a word for it). However, this shouldn't mean that it is required that everyone needs to blurt out whatever they are feeling at the moment, as if there is no filter between brain and mouth. While this causes some humerous moments, it also brings forth a conumdrum that I found irritating (and helped box the script into a corner that it couldn't really fight its way out of). The film simply could not continue to balance the story thread without fudging on its own premise.
That being said, the story is simple enough - Ricky is a mediocre writer of historical screenplays (another assumption made here is that, since no-one lies, then there is no "creative" writing - all writing must be factual, not fiction). Ricky is set up on a date with Jennifer Garner, who, she and everyone else tells Ricky, is out of his league (casting note here - I don't find Garner at all attractive, and here found her vapid quest for a "genetic equal" not in the least funny or realistic). Anyway, Ricky then loses the girl, and then his job, gets evicted from his apartment - but then... while trying to withdraw his remaining meager funds from the bank, actually manages to lie about his bank balance (once again, the scene lacked contineity, for he first asked not only to withdraw funds but to close his account - after the bank's computers come back on line and Ricky is given more cash than he has in the account, the teller doesn't follow up on his prior request to close the account - I mean, why bother mentioning closing the account in the first place if you're not going to follow through on it scriptwise? This kind of laziness irritates the heck out of me... can't ya tell??).
Anyway, once Ricky realizes he is capable of lying he begins testing the boundaries of his craft, including telling a woman he meets on the street that the world will end if she doesn't have sex with him - her reply, "right here on the street, or do we have time to get a room". Good stuff!
He later writes an improbable screenplay about aliens and all kinds of what not in the 14th Century, which the studio believes as factual - but here is another misstep - The studio believes that the film will be a big hit - because Ricky says so and since no-one lies... but that confuses the line between lieing and your opinion. Just because one person believes something doesn't make it a lie simply because someone else believes differently.
Ricky becomes rich and famous, but doesn't get the girl... until the very end, as she still maintains that he is not proper genetic material for her.
Along the way there are many squandered opportunities and several instances of lazy and sloppy writing, to go along with the severly hampered love story Gervais is trying to tell. Yet there are still laugh out loud moments - mostly from the outrageous signs on buildings - little things just thrown in that have nothing to do with the plot, but remain humerous nonethless (like the name on the wall of the old folkes home - something like "the depressing home for dying old people".
There is also a rather humerous religious angle to the film, which pokes fun at "the guy in the sky" and has a version of the ten "rules" printed on two pizza box tops, which some might find offensive. The scene where Ricky delivers the rules I found reminiscent of Monty Python's Life of Brian where the masses fail to understand the meaning, yet want to believe in something (again, this could have been more weighty except that, once again the script was hemmed in by the premise that everyone automatically believes everything being said, since no-one lies).
I should also mention that for the most part the acting was pretty solid - even Garner, considering what bits of script she had to work with. Especially good in small roles: Rob Lowe as an arrogant prick, who is successful because of his good looks (another theme here - somehow not lying equals reading all books by their covers?????), and the small but funny role of Ricky's secretary, played by Tina Fey. Finally, in case you may have missed it - there's a cameo of a bartender slyly portrayed by Phillip Seymore Hoffman.
In the end I couldn't help feeling that this potentially very funny idea could have recieved a better treatment - a rewrite of the script for starters - I guess since Ricky appears so golden, no-one wants to tell him that the emperor is buck naked.