Thursday, 26 November 2009


Universal Pictures
Now Showing

Wouldn't it be wonderful to love in a world without lies? Not if the parallel universe depicted in this comedy is anything to go by. No lies means people blurt out everything they're thinking, only date people they are guaranteed to produce genetically blessed offspring with and, worst of all, no fiction means no films: movies consist of people reading to camera events from history.

On the plus side, no lies means no religion and that is the most subversive element of Ricky Gervais's comedy, his first as director although duties are shared with writing partner Matthew Robinson.

Gervais plays Mark Bellison, a screenwriter saddled with writing about the Black Plague, who has no luck in the dating world and is about to be evicted due to a lack of funds. And then he comes up with the first ever lie (their world doesn't even have a word for it) and suddenly his money troubles are solved. But it's when he comforts his dying mother with tales of an afterlife that Bellison's ability to lie completely changes his world and the world in general.

Sadly, the film can't sustain its comic premise for the duration, and fine actors like Rob Lowe, Tina Fey and Jennifer Garner aren't given much to do. I can't explain why honesty would make Garner's character's so child-like, either. And Jonah Hill seems only to be here as a friend of Gervais or so people watching the trailer can say 'hey, it's the dude from Superbad!'

And having thrown religion down on the mat, the film refuses to sink the boot in too hard. But props to Gervais for getting the studio to back him and for willingly biting the hand (and US audience) that now feeds him. It certainly hasn't hurt him; Gervais has since been named as host of next year's Golden Globes - and it will be funny.

So is The Invention of Lying, but it's good not great and that's the sad truth.

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