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I love watching movies wherein reality is modified as in The Truman Show, Pleasantville and The Giver (I've read the book, and the movie is to be released this year). I haven't heard the movie The Invention of Lying since it was released in 2009, so when I did hear of it, I downloaded it in an instant.
The world in the film is populated by people who only speak the truth and nothing but the truth. Until one day, a writer named Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) tells a lie for personal gain.
Mark Bellison is a chubby man with a stubby nose. Not only is he unattractive and poor, he's also about to be fired from his job. In his work place, it seemed as if everyone hated him- his secretary, Shelley (Tina Fey), and he also finds himself a rival the yummy Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe). After being fired, he returns to his apartment only to find out that he's facing eviction due to delay in the payment of rent. He then goes to withdraw all his $300 from the bank and be homeless but the bank's system had gone down. He has named his price of $800 just as the system went back up, but the teller says "the system must have made a mistake". Alas, the first lie the world has ever told has just been generated. Lucky for the world, Mark doesn't use this "power" for evil but only to gain financial security as he also wanted to woo the very lovely Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). In the film, Mark can lie about anything and everything and people would believe him as there is no room for doubt in this world.
I think the movie is really funny. It's not hilarious, but it's comedy is really a breath of fresh air from the junk we've all been watching. At the very start of the film, it shows Mark fetching Anna for a date and she answers the door with a "You're early. I was just masturbating." and this generates laughter from its target audience. Even its commercials are downright straight to the point, tagging Coke to be "brown water with lots of sugar" and "it's famous". There's also Pepsi- "for when Coke's not around".
Apparently, the screenwriters, directors and producers of this film has confused lying with saying whatever's on your mind. Telling the truth is one thing, but it doesn't mean blurting this out when it is inappropriate. The writers catch on this mistake later on in the film because there is less blurting.
The film has unlikeable characters which doesn't allow the audience to grow with them. It is hard to like Mark because he doesn't have a character of his own. Sure, he's the star of the film and the one who invents the lie but he's nothing! He doesn't create an impact. Anna, on the other hand, is superficial. She wants to marry someone who would give her perfect little babies and financial security. It surely doesn't help that the other characters are forgettable.
The film starts out with a narration from Garvais himself and that just takes away the whole point of the movie. After 2 minutes, you can just turn that DVD off because you know what's going to happen. It would have been better for the film to have unravelled its world at its own pace, letting the audience find out on their own as in The Truman Show. That's what made the aforementioned film worth watching- it had taken their audience in and let them grow with the characters. The results were shocking and satisfying. That's how a good movie is made. In addition to that, I don't like how there is little emotion shown in the film. At some point, Mark's mother dies and he exudes a hurt and sorrowful vibe, but that was about it. It was exasperating to watch emotionless characters on the screen.
I really wanted to be impressed with this movie but overall, I think that the film had a very great concept but very poor execution. I do not think the writers have come across what they really wanted to portray and that's what made the film disappointing. The movie had a few moments where it picked up its comedic role, but at the end, it was just boring and it didn't make the cut for me.
Two out of five stars.