johnlink ranks THE INVENTION OF LYING (2009)

I love Ricky Gervais unabashedly. I can’t believe it took me this long to see this movie. I didn’t know of the cameo explosion this film has to offer. Some Spoilers below. But this is a comedy, so I’m not exactly ruining THE USUAL SUSPECTS.

I watched THE INVENTION OF LYING (2009) on 8.19.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

This is an interesting little movie. It is close in tone to TRUMAN SHOW, in that it is a fantasy world where one person is a focal point (here Gervais becomes one as the story goes on, in TRUMAN show Truman is the focus from the beginning). As a story, both start very light and fluffy, and move into more serious subject matter.

While I still think TRUMAN SHOW is the better film, I have a lot of respect for what Gervais did in THE INVENTION OF LYING. This is a movie about something, and it is something that may not be very popular. But the effect is more ribbing than preaching, so I think he is effective in delivering his thesis.

Really, this is a movie made by an atheist who wants to poke fun at religion by creating a world where he is the first person who can tell a lie. But he does it in such a way that he’s not going to turn off the religious-leaning audience. The Moses scene, with two Pizza Hut boxes being his tablets, is clever. His transformation into Jesus garb is funny, and the constant reference to ‘The Man in the Sky’ ties it all in. He sets out to point out the contradictions in religion, and some of the things followers may take for fact that sound a little less solid when out of context.

If that was all this movie was, it wouldn’t work. But the heart of the movie is the relationship between Gervais and Jennifer Garner. She goes from not liking him at all, to becoming his friend. She can’t, however, get over the fact that his pug nose and round belly wouldn’t be a good match for her potentially gorgeous offspring. She pushes him away, thinking that the world needs her to make perfect babies. The struggle of the film is him fighting this perception, and her trying to learn what ‘beauty’ and ‘goodness’ are.

The script is better once he learns to lie. I’ve seen so much of Gervais-in-awkward-situations, that the first half doesn’t feel more uncomfortable because they cannot lie, it feels less so. When someone in the British OFFICE or on EXTRAS says something absurd or out of place, it is because they are socially out of touch. In this film, it is because they have no choice. They have an excuse.

The cameo parade is awesome and fun. I’m not going to link them all, because most names are very recognizable. The best is Ed Norton as a police officer. Also good is Philip Seymour Hoffman as a bartender. Jason Bateman does a fine job as a doctor. Two of Gervais’ friends from EXTRAS (and long before that really), Stephen Merchant and Shaun Williamson, have a funny scene. And, I almost forgot, Tina Fey has a great couple of scenes as a secretary who hates her job.

The script is inconsistent. I wish there was a little better flow to the film. I think that is what keeps this from being as good as TRUMAN SHOW, because the performances are all there. Heck, Gervais even has an emotional scene where he cries. Didn’t think he could get there.

This was a good little movie. Glad I finally caught it.





~ by johnlink00 on August 20, 2010.

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