January 10, 2010

Review: The Invention of Lying

The premise and the appearance of Ricky Gervais lent this movie an air of excitement that ultimately led to disappointment. There's no shorter way to say it than that. The Invention of Lying, the latest effort by the creator of the original Office in the U.K., is far from his greatest work. Though the movie has redeeming qualities, it is not necessarily worth owning or paying money for.

The basic premise of the movie is that Gervais' character, Mark Bellison, is the first person in the world to discover the ability to lie. Up until this point, Bellison has been a loser, having lost his job, failed to impress a girl that he likes, and is constantly losing a war against his most hated rival, Rob Lowe playing Brad Kessler. Kessler's success as a movie writer is compared against Bellison's, who simply cannot make a successful script while Lowe's character is considered the best in the business.

In these scenes, the first flaw of the movie comes out. The major disadvantage of this world that manages to undermine the premise is that people are both too open and too shallow. Yes, the movie does present a world in which everybody tells the truth, but that truth seems to reveal nothing. People judge others merely based on physical appearance, nobody seems to even consider deeper personalities even though the lack of lying doesn't prevent that. Bellison's problem isn't that everyone is telling the truth: it seems as if everyone around him is simply superficial.

This is where the movie breaks down. The funny parts of the movie come from the fact that Gervais' character can tell a lie when no one else can, but the plot doesn't focus around this. Instead, it centers on the contrast between Gervais, who is deeper as a character, and everyone else, who are all superficial jerks. Presented in a world with everybody lying, this is a standard romantic comedy that is at least some degrees funny. But in the way that this is presented, it just seems like the directors are attacking all human beings at their souls.

The movie is not without its merits, and its ending will leave you satisfied. But the movie isn't worth buying the DVD. If you must, rent it or order an on demand viewing. If you can't, look at your local library to see if they have a DVD. Whatever you do, though, the movie isn't worth your money. At best, it's only worth your time.

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