For the uninformed, The Invention of Lying, co-written and co-directed by The Office star Ricky Gervais, presents us with a world where everyone tells the truth all the time. There is no fiction, flattery or anything that requires bending or stretching fact. Gervais, an overweight loser – he’s really stretching himself as an actor –looking for love, invents the lie.
What follows is, in one line, “what would you do if you were the only person who could lie?” And yes, it’s the obvious stuff; trick people into sleeping with you and giving you money.
Clearly there’s loads of room for comedy in a world where everyone is uncomfortably blunt about everything. For instance, the Coca-Cola slogan is “It’s very famous” and the Pepsi one is “for whenever they don’t have Coke”. Gervais plays his standard character – the one you either like or hate. Personally, your reviewer still finds him bizarre in an American setting and am much more comfortable with him in Wernham Hogg. While the first twenty minutes are charming and quite witty, everyone telling the truth constantly very quickly turns into the same joke over and over. The entire concept would have made a genius sketch, but a feature film is a different beast altogether.
Then there’s the most interesting part of the film, a part the trailer never touches on and an aspect that makes this film notable in general. The film, bizarrely enough, swiftly diverges into tame blasphemy when Gervais, in effect, makes up Christianity. In an effort to comfort a dying loved one he makes up a fictitious afterlife which sounds suspiciously like heaven. Everything then gets all Life of Brian when he claims to the masses of followers that the Man in the Sky is giving him all this information.
Meanwhile – in our world – Creation, a film that charts the life of Darwin, has been banned from release by the American censors because of fears of offending religious groups; yet this film essentially claims that Gervais is making up Christianity, mocking his naïve followers for comic effect. The American censors though, aren’t batting an eyelash. Not that they should; just food for thought.
In a nutshell: An unfortunately obvious rom-com with a pretty funny gimmick that gets tired quickly, and actually more interesting as religious commentary
Released: 2nd October
Stars: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey
Directors: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson