The Invention of Lying (2009)



Critic Consensus: It doesn't quite follow through on its promise, and relies too heavily on shopworn romantic comedy tropes, but The Invention of Lying is uncommonly sly and funny.

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Movie Info

"The Invention of Lying" takes place in an alternate reality in which lying--even the concept of a lie--does not even exist. Everyone--from politicians to advertisers to the man and woman on the street--speaks the truth and nothing but the truth with no thought of the consequences. But when a down-on-his-luck loser named Mark suddenly develops the ability to lie, he finds that dishonesty has its rewards. In a world where every word is assumed to be the absolute truth, Mark easily lies his way to fame and fortune. But lies have a way of spreading, and Mark begins to realize that things are getting a little out of control when some of his tallest tales are being taken as, well, gospel. With the entire world now hanging on his every word, there is only one thing Mark has not been able to lie his way into: the heart of the woman he loves.
PG-13 (for language including some sexual material and a drug reference)
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Ricky Gervais
as Mark Bellison
Jennifer Garner
as Anna McDoogles
Jonah Hill
as Frank
Louis C.K.
as Greg
Jeffrey Tambor
as Anthony
Fionnula Flanagan
as Martha Bellison
Rob Lowe
as Brad Kessler
Tina Fey
as Shelley
Donna Sorbello
as Anna's Mother
John Hodgman
as Wedding Overseer
Nathan Corddry
as News Reporter
Martin Starr
as Waiter #1
Jason Bateman
as Doctor
Christopher Guest
as Nathan Goldfrappe
Alton Fitzgerald White
as Angelo Badsmith
Philip Seymour Hoffman
as Jim the Bartender
Roz Ryan
as Nurse #1
Michael Patrick Gough
as Homeless Man
Arnie Burton
as Waiter at Fancy Restaurant
Ashlie Atkinson
as Bank Teller
Bobby Moynihan
as Assistant
Shaun Williamson
as Richard Bellison
Stephen Merchant
as Man at the Door
Cole Jensen
as Short Fat Brian
Lisa Paige Robinson
as Arguing Girlfriend
Matthew Stadelmann
as Arguing Boyfriend
Jared Vos
as Person #1
Jessica Baade
as Person #2
Elena Wohl
as Person #3
Matthew Robinson
as Person #4
Donald Foley
as Yelling Man
Dennis Lemoine
as Young Man
Lance Norris
as Man #1
Joe Wong
as Man #2
Colin Knight
as Man #3
Eric André
as Man #4
Gene Amoroso
as Man #5
Armen Garo
as Man #6
Patrick Shea
as Man #7
Joe Stapleton
as Man #8
Dreama Walker
as Receptionist
Brigid O'Connor
as Woman #1
Ellen Colton
as Woman #3
Layla Hosseini
as Woman #4
Erica Newhall
as Woman #5
Nydia Calon
as Woman #6
Hope Farley
as Woman #7
Paul Donlon
as Elderly #1
Mauriel Gold
as Elderly #2
Mary Klug
as Elderly #3
Rachel Harker
as Woman in Business Suit
Brett Cramp
as Crying Man
Toni Saladna
as Cocktail Waitress
Guy Strauss
as Pit Man
Nick Towne
as Roulette Dealer
Tate Ellington
as Waiter #2
Luz Alexandra Ramos
as Chip Woman
Ken Cheeseman
as Shouting Man
David Pittu
as Tour Guide
Nada Despotovich
as Nurse #2
Danielle Perry
as Hostess in LaBonisera
Joseph Badalucco Jr.
as Blue Collar Guy
Doug Bowen-Flynn
as Terrorist #1
Celeste Oliva
as Secretary
Jake Watkins
as Bully Kid
Valerie Hager
as Talking Head Woman
Alison Quinn
as Talking Head Woman
Mitchell Roche
as Talking Head Man
Joe Badalucco
as Blue Collar Guy
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Critic Reviews for The Invention of Lying

All Critics (183) | Top Critics (40)

There are cycles of inspiration and rebirth, but the barbed promise of the early going loses its way in choices aimed at sentimentality rather than, as Harvey Kurtzman memorably put it, humor in a jugular vein.

Full Review… | November 22, 2009
Top Critic

It's bogged down in too many squishy romantic-comedy pieties.

October 5, 2009
At the Movies
Top Critic

I think the first half hour would be almost impossible to sustain because it is so inspired.

October 5, 2009
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The last third of the movie is as bad as anything I've seen this year, with the laughs trailing off, and half of the supporting characters, the zestier ones, being airbrushed from the frame.

Full Review… | October 4, 2009
New Yorker
Top Critic

That a great comic idea does not necessarily make for a great screen comedy is the lesson for first-time writer-director-star Ricky Gervais as he comes unstuck.

Full Review… | October 4, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

Despite the ambitious scope of its premise, this confounding, disappointing and, in the end, depressing movie is content to devote 80 percent of its screen time to wondering who gets to kiss the girl.

Full Review… | October 2, 2009
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Invention of Lying


In a world where everyone tells the truth (even when unprovoked - a nit at which this and many other reviewers have picked), Mark Bellison discovers that he can lie and uses that superpower for good...for the most part. 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."

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer


Amusing if not exceptional comedy, Gervais has yet to make a movie that is anywhere near as enjoyable or original as one of his many TV shows.

Stuart Brooks
Stuart Brooks

Super Reviewer

Oh dear this looked ok from the trailer. Thought it would be a mix of Liar, Liar with Bruce Almighty. Unfortunately n where near as funny as those two. In fact for a comedy apart from the main plot running through the film, it tries to be a bit too serious for a comedy. As a result not that much to laugh at here. I expected a lot better and was let down.

Dean King
Dean King

Super Reviewer

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