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The Invention of Lying
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The Invention of Lying More at IMDbPro »

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202 out of 267 people found the following review useful:

constantly funny it may not be, but clever it is

Author: marc_dambrosio from Toronto, ONT
4 October 2009

There is a certain re-training of the mind that a film expects of us in order to fully enjoy the place it seeks to take us. This film, in the first act we are taught, in a rather funny way that the world of this film is to say the least - honest. Everyone coldly delivers, whether asked or not - exactly what is on their mind. It takes a good 1/4 of the film to fully understand exactly the world where there is no opposite to truth. And those moments are worth the price of admission alone.

As a viewer I enjoyed the random interactions that a world where truth is embedded in the framework of all social interaction. With no deviation.

By the time Gervais comes across the knowledge that an alternate way of communication exists in "saying what wasn't" we embark on a tale of a man who essentially won the "lying Lottery".

The humour is subtle, the contrast of religious themes are not so, and that may have been the weakest of elements in the film. Sadly those who think there is a single element of disrespect towards religion from within the world of the film are I believe incorrect. While religious digs may have been the impetus for the films creation, from within the film, Mark's character seems to make a clear delineation between an evil lie and a white lie. And his character never seems comfortable for too long with a lie that affects the lives of many.

The film does have a one of the more sweet and quietly powerful scenes where Mark creates an alternate afterlife for his mother. Because I don't view this film through a filter of religious expectation I found this scene to be simply powerful and poignant.

I enjoyed it, as did my partner. We talked the whole way home, and recreated some of the laughs on the way to the car. That is not a lie.

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141 out of 209 people found the following review useful:

Charmingly Clever

Author: MJ from United States
23 October 2009

Brilliant concept and terrific execution. Wonderful casting.

Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner are absolutely believable throughout their respective characters' evolution, and they play off each other very well. In fact, everyone's performance is spot on. And the cinematography beautifully plays up (or down, rather) the fictional world which is the story's setting.

If you're hoping for non-stop one-liners and ridiculousness throughout, this is not your film. While this film's cheeky, pointed story is loaded with wit - including some side-splitting scenes (I cried with laughter watching Ricky Gervais' character face questions from a credulous crowd) - it has a real and rather serious plot. There is a point to this fiction, indeed.

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151 out of 229 people found the following review useful:

Worth Seeing in the Theater

Author: Anthony Taylor from Buffalo, NY
3 October 2009

I'm not sure whats up with people's comments on this movie. I honestly enjoyed myself. This is a very British style humor, wonderfully executed by Gervais. The concept had a different potential then people are expecting. This is not Carry/Liar, Liar humor. You have to be a bit more witty and insightful then that to enjoy this movie. The casting was great on this film. I'm glad Hill took on a serious role and did it well. I really liked Garner in this film. She was fantastic and played off of Gervais very well. I also liked the way they portrayed a world without lie; very well thought out. Overall, good concept put on screen and wonderfully played. Great job.

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82 out of 112 people found the following review useful:

God is an upside down fruit man

Author: kaitlynn lane from United States
11 December 2009

This movie had a hard life. A lot of people walked out of theaters trash talking it. I honestly think the only reason this movie is being criticized so harshly is because it pokes at religion. It was the best allegory on religion since Cat's Craddle. This movie was interesting, and it really makes the viewer think about human values. Just because a movie mimics reality so honestly it seems absurd is not a reason to dislike something. How do you dislike the truth. I think people should watch this movie remembering it's just a movie. Friendly advice: don't get your panties all bunched up before you sit down in the dark for two hours.

The Invention of Lying, is a hilarious comedy that also offers some thought provoking truths.

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217 out of 383 people found the following review useful:

Oh dear! A classic case of a good concept in search of a good story

Author: motta80-2 from London, England
1 October 2009

Oh dear! I had high hopes for this Ricky Gervais comedy. He's never proved himself on film, but here he was writing, directing, producing. He had come up with a great, funny concept. This was his chance to shine.

Unfortunately the light at the end of this tunnel is the train coming to run us down.

Like so many "high concept" comedies this is a concept in desperate, futile search of a plot... and some funnier lines.

It's no disaster. There are some funny bits. It starts well (or at least does after a hideously misguided voice-over explanation of the basic plot set-up) but the joke that everyone not only can't lie (lying doesn't exist you see, hence the title - obvious, right? So why the voice over explanation Ricky, why, oh, why!) but volunteers the truth, no matter how harsh, at every occasion quickly wears thin. He gets about 20 minutes out of it and some people handle it better than others. Curiously it is often the straight actors (like Jennifer Garner) that play it better and the comedians (like Tina Fey) who sound too much like they are delivering calculated lines to get a laugh - and therefore don't. I love Fey but every line of hers fell flat for me here while Garner sold the hell out of it. Perhaps it's the less comedic actors lose themselves more in the character and world and aren't trying for the gag, the laugh, just trusting in the script, etc. I don't know but it's noticeable time and again here.

A risky (for some American audiences) plot element involving his inadvertent creation of religion and the spiralling outcome of this is also amusing, but again it's funnier as an idea than in execution. Out-staying its welcome.

There are also some dynamite cameos, including two that had my laughing simply by their presence. A bar tender that joins Gervais and the excellent Louis C.K. in a scene is both funny by presence and in his dynamite delivery. I'm not going to say who plays it because if you're going to watch the film it was one of the highlights for me.

As was another cameo by a usually fairly serious actor (although he has shown a comedic side on occasion) as a traffic cop. Again just his presence is funny from the moment he walks on screen and the voice (cause you won't instantly recognise him) gives him away.

A scene with two Extras regulars is fun but feels out of place in the film, almost playing like an afterthought put in for faithful fans.

Amongst the other leads Garner triumphs, giving it her all and Louis C.K. is very funny, but Jonah Hill is underused and never hits the high notes he achieved in Funny People, while Tina Fey doesn't bring it (and i so wanted her to) and Rob Lowe really fails in an update of his Wayne's World character.

But ultimately this descends into sentiment and lacks resolve or real drama. It often feels like a string of stand-up one-liners extended into plot devices (as there is no lying movies are a guy -nice touch cameo from Christopher Guest as one such - reading a book on camera) that work once but then are repeated over and over, beating the gag into submission. Ideas like the use of lying to make people feel better are similarly used once to affecting and comedic effect but then overplayed.

And before you know it you're bogged down in a film about perception of others and looking beyond the surface that could have been reached by any number of devices, making the lying thing irrelevant!

Like Bruce Almighty the concept can only get the film so far before you notice you have almost no interest in the characters, there is no discernible plot and we're going to descend into sentimentality without passing through palpable drama or achieving any resolve.

Disappointing is the only appropriate word.

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68 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

Better Than I Expected

Author: saintseminole from United States
3 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Written by, directed by, and starring British comedian Ricky Gervais, this film has a simple premise, as detailed in the previews: No one in the world has ever lied, until now.

Gervais' character, Mark Bellison, apparently has a misfiring synapse when he lies for the first time, and it surprises him as much as it would anybody. But once he realizes the import of what he's done, he keeps doing it, trying to use his powers for good, with some hilarious (and some disastrous) results.

I wondered about the premise before seeing the movie. What would the "ban" on lying include? As it turns out, the authors went whole hog. When they say no one's ever lied in this world, they mean *in any way*. No fictional stories, no lies by omission, no intentional deceit, and no religion. Basically the rule on this imaginary world has always been: you can't say anything that *isn't*. No one's ever thought of doing such a thing. So, if two people tell you two different things, then one of them is mistaken.

The story starts of hilariously, with Gervais' and Jennifer Garner's characters meeting for a date. She's hot, and he's dumpy. They waste no time telling each other this, in all honesty, including their doubts and worries about the date. Flattery doesn't exist, because it's a form of lying. Keeping silent to spare someone's feelings is also lying, and so has never been done.

Think of all the things that wouldn't exist if no one had ever said anything that wasn't true... For instance, words like true, untrue, belief, unbelievable, fiction, lying, etc. -- none of those words can exist. There are no churches, no novels. All movies are historical or documentary. All news shows only tell the truth.

When Bellison suddenly realizes he can say things that don't agree with reality, he quickly learns what power that holds, both for good and evil. He can walk into a bank and tell them he has quite a bit of money in his bank account -- they'll assume their computers have made a mistake.

In the course of the story, Bellison learns how to make people feel better about themselves by telling little white lies. He invents fictional movies, and later religion. Religion came naturally, because everyone was scared of the nothingness that comes after death. He assured them that good things would follow death, at least for good people.

Religious people are unlikely to enjoy the movie, since it gets to the heart of why most early religions were started -- to cure that fear of life and fear of the unknown after death (besides the ability to control large groups of people).

But it's well-thought out and well-executed in this movie. The funny parts are really funny, and the sad parts are really sad. There's really no great cinematography though, no reason to see it on the big screen. Wait for it on DVD.

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41 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Good vehicle for (and by) Gervais

Author: delibebek from United States
11 August 2010

I was pleasantly surprised by this film. From a simple premise as "lying doesn't exist" it develops into a thoughtful tale with a touch of satire. On the one hand it exposes early on the basic first impressions we all have of each other and of situations we find ourselves in. On the other, it touches on the importance of being honest about what we know and especially honest about what we don't know.

I could examine all the inconsistencies inherent to a concept like this. One would think that without the concept of duplicity, we should be far more advanced than we currently are. One would also think that without lying, there would be no imagination and therefore very few scientific discoveries and advances. The story requires that you don't think about that too much, just to enjoy the script as it moves along.

Gervais carries the film along as planned, in his quiet, self-effacing way. The humor won't have you rolling on the floor, but the frankness of the casual insights should make anyone snicker with self-awareness at the truth of it all.

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49 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Light Philosophy Delightfully Deceives as Romantic Comedy

Author: Brian Jones from United States
23 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If one were to score this movie on a category-by-category basis, some of the categories might be laughability, cinematography, acting performance, direction, originality, script writing and social impact.

Weighting each equally would lead me to give a much lower rating for "The Invention of Lying." 7 for laughability, 4 for cinematography, 5 for acting, mostly for the performances by Gervais and Fey. Some of the other performances including Garner's seemed lacking, but I'm not sure if this was the fault of the actors, the director, the script or all three. Some of the problem with the acting performances might have been an attempt to make the characters purposefully boring and one-dimensional as a result of the environment in which they live.

There were some good laughs, but not nearly the funniest movie I've seen. Although the cinematography was about a 5, it isn't the type of movie that demands extraordinary feats in this department.

9 for originality. Most movies that deal with lying take the opposite approach as in "Liar, Liar." It was the originality of the concept that made me go see the movie. Certainly, the plot of the movie took an approach that caught a lot of the reviewers off guard.

But to me, the parts of the script that dealt with the philosophical ramifications of lying made up for all the weaker aspects of this film. It seemed clear to me that this was the focal point of the movie. Ironically, the trailers don't even hint at this, thus deceiving us into watching a philosophical movie in romantic comedy dressing.

As an atheist, I often am confronted with the argument that even if religion is a lie, the benefits it provides outweigh the negative consequences. I disagree, but understand there is an element of truth to this argument. Gervais explores this aspect more directly than any mainstream treatment I've seen if not in great depth.

To me, the strength of the philosophical treatment is the questions it poses, not the answers it provides. The movie doesn't really provide a lot of answers. When Bellison (Gervais) lies to his mother to give her comfort when she is dying, he has the best of intentions and ends up having to tell huge lies to cover his initial small lie. He attempts to use the utmost care in telling these new lies -- spending so much time concentrating on the exact wording that he grows a beard while doing so. Even so, when he reveals the ten revelations he receives from the "invisible man in the sky," the masses immediately start scrutinizing the rules and reveal weaknesses in them.

Having thought about these issues quite a bit, there was nothing groundbreaking here for me, but it tickles me pink to think this movie might be watched by those who have yet to journey down that path. This alone accounts for 2-3 of my 9 stars.

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49 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

A pleasant way to spend 100 minutes

Author: ToddTee from Southern California
5 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The two parts of the movie are quite different and in some cases both parts may not appeal to everyone. The first part, which is just long enough for my taste had everyone telling the truth at all times about everything, with one notable exception. They equated the 1300s with the 13th century, which is of course not correct. But this likely won't bother many people. Seeing a world with nothing but the truth means no fiction and no "little white lies". Quite boring and brutal, really. The part that's poking fun at religion may not be some people's cup of tea, but I suspect that these are those not secure enough in their beliefs to allow them to be challenged, no matter how humorously. To see what Gervais does with a pizza box is nearly worth the price of a ticket.

All in all, not a classic movie, but a much better way to spend one's day than many of the other movies out there today.

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76 out of 130 people found the following review useful:

Clever concept that never reaches its full potential

Author: Jack Huitson from England
7 October 2009

In a world where people can only tell the truth, Ricky Gervais creates the lie. What follows this simple concept with great potential is a series of quick fire jokes made funny by the sheer bluntness of the absolute truth. The screenplay is lightly comical but rarely laugh-out-loud funny and continually relies on the same concept.

As the plot progresses, it veers from quick-fire jokes to a parody of religion. On the one hand, this offers an interesting and thought-provoking reflection; however, I found the developing plot to become mildly preachy and irritating to watch. The humour level drops and the religious overtones and romantic subplot overshadow the interesting idea.

Visually, I found the film to be rather drab and dreary. Similarly, I didn't care for the dowdy and monotonous score and soundtrack choices. I understand that these are probably intended to represent a world without fiction, but they make the film a little tedious to watch and don't add anything to the movie. I enjoyed Jenifer Garner's performance as Gervais' love interest which she's plays with harsh yet likable realism, but Gervais' lead performance left me a little cold. In combination with lacklustre screenplay, I was left unimpressed with the utilisation of a potentially hilarious and fascinating concept.

The Invention of Lying is a quiet, simple movie on the surface, but underneath lies a more complex, thought-provoking moral allegory, albeit one that fails to deliver anything truly remarkable. It tries to be clever, but fails to deliver.


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