David’s Review of The Invention of Lying

12 Oct

The Invention of Lying is not a bad movie.  I want to start out with that.  I don’t usually give bad reviews to movies, and this just might come off as bad.  So I want to start out by saying The Invention of Lying is not bad.  It’s just not very good either.  And that’s pretty disappointing.invention_of_lying

I’ll start off with the good.  Ricky Gervais is a very funny man.  Consequently, it would seem, he can get lots of other funny people to be in his movie.  Let me just give you a list:  Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Edward Norton, Martin Starr, Christopher Guest, Jimmi Simpson.  All of these people (and the others I didn’t mention) are hilarious.  They’re all hilarious in this movie too.  The first good thing about this movie is all of the incredibly funny people that are in it.

The second positive thing about this movie is its premise.  It’s a brilliant concept that has enormous potential as a comedy.  I find awkwardness has great comedic potential when used correctly in films, and the absence of any and all lies gives rise to plenty of awkward situations, thus presenting great opportunity for funny things.

Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Ricky Gervais

Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Ricky Gervais

Now, on to my problems with this movie.  I have four big complaints:

  1. It’s really not very funny.  Yes, there are funny parts.  I laughed out loud at a number of them.  But there were also long stretches of not funny.  This would be fine if The Invention of Lying was supposed to be one of those ever-popular “dramedies”, but I don’t think it is.  It’s just a comedy that fails to deliver.
  2. I mentioned before what an excellent cast this movie boasts. Unfortunately, actors like Edward Norton and Jimmi Simpson are not utilized nearly as often as they should be.  The scenes with these performers had me doubled over laughing.  But then their scene is over and we never hear from them again.  Why use them for such a small part of the movie when their scenes are so much better than the rest of it?  It baffles me.
  3. I am totally at loss as to what Gervais was trying to say about faith in this movie.  Spoiler alert:  belief in a god plays a large part in the story.  There is no faith until Gervais learns he can lie and tells his dying mother about heaven in an effort to comfort her.  Thus, belief in “The Tall Man With Big Hands” is born.  The first half of the movie seems to be saying that some sort of faith improves people’s lives.  People in the world seem to be happier for it.  Some use belief in an after-life as an excuse to not do anything in this life (admittedly, very true to life), but a lot of the characters seem better for it.  There is hope in a world that was otherwise hopeless.  There is pain that wasn’t there before as well, but overall it seems like a better place.  Then, at the end, the story seems to reverse.  Suddenly, it’s stupid to live blindly by belief.  But there’s no evidence for this reversal of opinion.  At the beginning we seem to be shown why belief in a god can be good, and then, at the end, Gervais’s character seems to point us in the other direction, but without any reason why this is. The scene where heaven is invented is maybe the most well acted scene in Gervais’s career.  It’s almost heartbreaking.  But then he suddenly says, “Never mind, forget what you felt back there.”  It’s very confusing and ruined part of the movie for me.
  4. Almost all of the conflict in the story stems from every romantic relationship being centered around genetics.  It’s taken for granted that in a world without lies, genetics are the most important thing in a relationship.  If someone just brought this idea up in a normal, everyday conversation I think they would face a massive amount of arguing to convince anyone of their opinion. I, personally, think you can be very attracted to someone that is not a perfect genetic match for you without it being a lie.  And I think it’s incredibly bizarre that this strange idea would be the sole spark for most of the conflict in this film.

I enjoyed watching The Invention of Lying.  I would not pay to watch it though.  Watch when it comes out on DVD.  Don’t buy it though.  I would think hard about renting it too.  There are so many better options.  But if one of your friends rents it, watch it with them, and then direct them to this website so that they’ll know better next time.

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One Response to “David’s Review of The Invention of Lying”

  1. Charlie Bucket October 13, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    agreed!

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