The Invention of Lying

Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying is a movie with an identity crisis. Is it 99 minutes of an extended Saturday Night Live segment? Is it social commentary on the complexities and contradictions of religi
on? Or is it mismatched romantic comedy? The problem is, it's too hard to tell.
The movie's premise is clever enough, though not wholly original. Gervais' "chubby, snub-nosed" Mark Bellison lives in a world where lying is such a foreign concept, they don't even have a word for it. Instead, people are obliged to express every thought that crosses their mind; apparently, the inability to lie also means the
inability to filter. The verbal diarrhea leads to some funny moments, as it did with parts of Jim Carrey's Liar, Liar. But the over-sharing get old and annoying. What's more, it seems that in a world of all truth all the time, the people are shallow, lackluster, depressed and without hope.
Enter a few seconds of cerebral short-circuiting, and Mark suddenly has the ability to "say what isn't." This new-found talent is his ticket from "loser" status into a life he can design for himself. The world becomes alive with possibilities, and he starts to spread the joy. (Awfully reminiscent of Pleasantville, when the world only had color once vice was introduced.) He spreads that joy by becoming a kind of messiah, telling his neighbors about "the man in the sky" who will prepare "mansions" for all of them when they die. There are a few chuckles here for the Christian who isn't easily offended, but I wondered if the title shouldn't have really been The Invention of Lying (and by 'Lying,' I Mean Religion). The pokes and prods run past the point of relevance, and after a while it's just. not. funny.
Squeezed into the film is also a frustrated love story with Jennifer Garner's Anna, and cameo appearances by a bevy of great comedic actors. None of it makes a difference, though. This movie is as pointless as a dog chasing its tail - an awful lot of huffs and puffs that eventually lead to nowhere.
Motherly Advice: Rated PG-13 for language including some sexual material and a drug reference. Directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson (both also wrote the screenplay).This film is probably best for older teens and up, especially if you are willing to talk to them about the awkward sexual material that is mentioned early (and at length) in the movie.
Stacey Nerdin - Movie Mom