The Invention of Lying – Movie Review
by Kevin Bowen
published October 2, 2009
The Invention of Lying
now playing nationwide
In one of the funnier scenes in The Invention of Lying, British
comic Ricky Gervais – stuck in a world where he is the only person who knows how to lie – improvises a religion, the world’s first from
what we can tell. The Man in the Sky, he tells a crowd, will give everyone a giant mansion after they die and an eternal afterlife of
happiness. (Yes, he is writing his ticket to Hell here.)
What could The Man in the Sky give Gervais in the afterlife? Let’s
take a look.
1. A higher Q rating – Last year, Gervais’ name was floated as a
host for the Oscars. Those in the know said, “Great!” The majority said, “Who?” The star of the British version of The Office, like many British comics of late, has had a tough time breaking into the American
mainstream. While I wouldn’t say his style is without precedent, his melancholy subtlety is a refresher in today’s comic atmosphere of
gross-outs and affected weirdness. The man never hard-sells a joke, or at least never gets caught doing so.
2. A better leading lady than Jennifer Garner – Garner is a comic
over-emoter. She meets every inch of Gervais’ subtlety with miles of pushy expressions. Her face bends in such ways that you must wonder
if her skull has secret elbows.
3. A riskier script – Well, it is a twist on Liar, Liar.
Gervais appears to be following the path of the American star of The Office, Steve Carell, the Cap’n Crunch of the high-fructose
mass comedy. I’d like to see him in a more daring role, even a supporting one. A natural sarcastic cutthroat doorman.
4. A street-front set that doesn’t look like a set, that doesn’t give you the feeling that a crew will clean it up and turn it around for a music video 13 hours later.
5. A story that doesn’t drop off. The Invention of Lying has some quite casually funny moments. A few of the hyper-honest advertisements
have real bite as satire of famous products. Then it just …… disappears.
6. More Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Just a fun blip cameo as a salty
Best wishes for a happy afterlife, Ricky. But keep plugging away at
this one first.
kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com