The Invention of Lying
Review by Jack Foley
RICKY Gervais has hit upon a genuinely novel idea for his new comedy, The Invention of Lying… but we’d be telling a few porkies of our own if we described it as the perfect movie!
While certainly original and funny in places, the film is perhaps a little too high concept for its own good, taking viewers into places they might not expect and making them feel uncomfortable more often than they’d like.
A lot of mean-spirited humour also comes at the expense of any real emotional connection, thereby rendering the film an oddly cold experience.
Gervais plays long-suffering screenwriter Mark Bellison who, by virtue of the fact that no one can lie, finds himself subjected to a daily routine of straight-talking and humiliation.
Having reached rock bottom, however, he discovers he can lie and subsequently boosts his love life and career, until complications arise following the death of his mother.
Rather than allowing her to drift off into the after-life scared, he tells her some reassuring fibs and suddenly finds himself a global celebrity of God-like stature as everyone around him seeks comfort from his words of wisdom.
To be fair, The Invention of Lying has plenty of positives working in its favour.
Aside from Gervais, the cast is chock full of well-known faces and some surprise cameos that enhance the overall enjoyment value, as well as a smattering of smart one-liners that are genuinely amusing.
Of the cameos, keep an eye out for Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry from EastEnders, Stephen Merchant and Edward Norton among the shorter ones, as well as scene-stealing longer appearances from Rob Lowe, Tina Fey and Jason Bateman.
Jennifer Garner displays a nice line in coming timing as Gervais’ appearance-obsessed potential love interest, even though she’s pretty undeserving of his affection, and Jonah Hill enjoys some nice asides as a suicidal neighbour.
Observations on the [occasional] lunacy of religion are mostly well observed, while the rom-com elements do possess the odd touching moment.
But as hard as it tries, The Invention of Lying doesn’t quite work as a satisfying whole.
Gervais’ Messiah-like rise is perhaps a little too provocative, while Garner’s last-act turnaround fails to convince. You may well arrive at the conclusion with a distinct feeling of “is that it?”
It’s then that the film feels all the more disappointing given the wealth of talent involved.
The overall feeling is that The Invention of Lying has to rate as an honourable failure for Gervais and co, rather than the high-flying triumph it really could have been.
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: February 1, 2010