How different would everybody’s life be if people around them were incapable of being dishonest?
In the film, “The Invention of Lying,” directed by Matthew Robinson and British comedian Ricky Gervais (Writer, “The Office” 2005) the idea of a world where people are unable to lie is explored. Ricky Gervais stars as the lead, alongside Jennifer Garner (“Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past,” 2009), Jonah Hill (“Funny People” 2009) and popular writer and comedian Louis C.K. (Writer, “Down to Earth” 2005).
The first 20 minutes of the movie are very promising as the narrator explains to the audience that the movie is set in a place unlike the world we live in. Nobody in this world knows how to lie; the word “lie” itself is never once heard throughout the entire movie.
The narrator goes on to explain that because these people live in a world where lies don’t exist, people often seem blunt, there is no flattery, there are no white lies and the characters in the movie come off as gullible or naive.
The first scene in the movie is Mark Bellison walking to Anna McDoogles’ apartment where he is telling himself to not screw up this date. Until this moment the audience is still unaware of what the narrator was talking about when this world with out lies was described. Anna opens the door and her honest answer to Mark’s questions shock the audience and fills the theatre with laughter.
Anna tells Mark right off the bat that she is pessimistic about their date. Over dinner he tells her that he is most likely going to get fired. She receives a phone call from her mother where she says right in front of Mark that she thinks he is fat, and that she definitely won’t be sleeping with him.
In a way, the viewer feels pity for Mark because he comes off as this ultimate good, nice guy just completely down on his luck. The date ends and Anna later tells him how she really feels about him through an e-mail. He gets fired from his job. His landlord comes knocking at his door looking for rent money. With $300 in the bank he needs $500 more to make rent.
He goes to the bank to close his account and the systems are down. The bank employee asks him how much he would like to withdraw from his account and then the moment everybody has been waiting for, the invention of the lie.
With enough rent money, Mark is now on a roll. At first he doesn’t understand what he did; neither can he explain it to the people around him. When he tries to exemplify his behavior they don’t understand what happen. He realizes that everyone around him is gullible. He doesn’t really use his power for really bad things though. His ultimate goal, it seems, is to win Anna over. Mark becomes his own version of successful.
While the movie isn’t fast-paced or attention-grabbing at all times, the audience can see little bits of humor in all of it. The people in the movie say exactly what they’re thinking and it makes the audience really think about what our world would be like if everyone were to say exactly what they thought.
Mark finally digs himself into a hole when he tries to share his thoughts of what the afterlife holds. People think he knows what happens after death, when he was just really trying to comfort someone. Everyone focuses in on him; he has the attention of the whole world. Until now it wasn’t clear but there is no religion in this world either.
Mark is forced to come up with an explanation for why he said, what he said about the afterlife. Mark tells the world that there is a man living in the sky and that this man in the sky doesn’t want people to do bad things. Also, that if you do those bad things you go to a bad place when you die. If you don’t do those bad things you go to a wonderful place, and everything good and bad that happens is because of this man in sky.
This is where the audience sees correlations between The Man in the Sky and God, kind of toying with the idea that the concept of God itself comes from man. At some point the movie gets kind of slow and the buzz from the beginning isn’t there anymore. Anna’s shallow personality is incredibly disappointing and it’s not clear why Mark loves her so much.
The ending is a good one and happy one but the underlying concept of a world where no lies take place is never really pursued. It seems to just be there to tickle the mind, and the lies that Mark told the whole world, are never addressed either. The whole world just accepts them and he lets the world accept them, so it just feels like everything is up in the air.
Aside from the storyline, the acting was pretty good. Gervais did a very good job as Mark Bellison and while Garner’s role wasn’t very adventurous compared to her previous ones, she played it well.
This is movie is not a “must-see” but it is worth seeing.
My rating would be 3.5 stars out of 5.