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The Invention of Lying (2009)

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A comedy set in a world where no one has ever lied, until a writer seizes the opportunity for personal gain.
4,750 ( 162)
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ricky Gervais ... Mark Bellison
Jennifer Garner ... Anna McDoogles
Jonah Hill ... Frank
Louis C.K. ... Greg
Jeffrey Tambor ... Anthony
Fionnula Flanagan ... Martha Bellison
Rob Lowe ... Brad Kessler
Tina Fey ... Shelley
Donna Sorbello Donna Sorbello ... Anna's Mother
Stephanie March ... Blonde
Ruben Santiago-Hudson ... Landlord
John Hodgman ... Wedding Overseer
Nate Corddry ... News Reporter
Jimmi Simpson ... Bob
Martin Starr ... Waiter #1


It's a world where everyone tells the truth - and just about anything they're thinking. Mark Bellison is a screenwriter, about to be fired. He's short and chunky with a flat nose - a genetic setup that means he won't get to first base with Anna, the woman he loves. At a bank, on the spur of the moment he blurts out a fib, with eye-popping results. Then, when his mother's on her deathbed, frightened of the eternal void awaiting her, Mark invents fiction. The hospital staff overhear his description of Heaven, believe every word, and tell others. Soon Mark is a prophet, his first inventive screenplay makes him rich, and he's basically a good guy. But will that be enough for Anna? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In a world where everyone can only tell the truth... ...this guy can lie. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language including some sexual material and a drug reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site | Ricky Gervais - Blog | See more »





Release Date:

2 October 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

This Side of the Truth See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »


Box Office


$18,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,027,472, 4 October 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$18,439,082, 13 December 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »


When Mark is trying to withdraw his money from the bank and system is on again, the bank teller says she can now access his account, but you can clearly see on her screen that she has already been looking at it. See more »


Martha Bellison: I'm so scared, Mark. People don't talk about it, but death is a horrible thing. One minute, you're alive, and then just like that, it's all gone. This is it, Mark. Few more hours like this and then an eternity of nothingness. I'm so... I'm so frightened.
Mark Bellison: Oh, Mum. Mum, listen to me. Listen carefully. You're wrong about what happens after you die. It's not an eternity of nothingness.
Martha Bellison: Huh?
Mark Bellison: You go to your favourite place in the whole world. Yeah. And everyone you've ever loved and who's ever loved ...
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Referenced in The Jay Leno Show: Episode #1.82 (2010) See more »


Do Anything You Wanna Do
Written by Eddie Hollis and Graeme Douglas
Performed by Eddie and the Hot Rods
Courtesy of Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Delightful and Thoughtful
6 June 2011 | by jayraskin1See all my reviews

This may be the most philosophical romantic comedy since Groundhog Dog(Ramis, 1993). It starts with the brilliant premise "What if nobody had ever told a lie and did not even understand that a lie was possible?" It is an interesting question. The movie first draws laughs by setting up this type of world. It then draws laughs by showing us how lying can turn the world upset down.

A great comedy entertains and this one does that, but it also raises some highly provocative questions about religion and people's susceptibility to it. To put icing on the cake, the movie has some startlingly beautiful scenes, for example, where the lead character soothes his mother over her coming death and the scene where Mark (Ricky Gervais) refuses to lie to Anna (Jennifer Garner).

Gervais reminds one of Lou Costello with a sweetness and gentleness unique for a comedian unique for this age. Jennifer Garner at age 37 here seems a little too old for the working-girl looking to get married part, but she has never looked more beautiful than in this movie.

There are some nice short scenes with Tina Fey, Jeffrey Tambor and others. One wishes that their characters could have been more developed and had more to do.

On the DVD, there's a great 7 minute prequel, which apparently was supposed to be the beginning of the movie. It is terrific and I think they made a mistake in editing it out. Be sure to watch it.

I plan on showing scenes from this movie to my Philosophy class next semester.

One warning, thoughtless evangelicals will probably see it as an attack on their holiness fantasy, so don't invite your born-again Christian friends over to see it.

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