Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Movie Review: "The Invention of Lying"



I am a fan of Ricky Gervais because he spins the straw of his most abhorrent traits into comedic gold.
Ash hates Ricky Gervais because his lengthy meditations on these qualities repulses her.
Gervais, along with Matthew Robinson, shared writing and directing credit and starred in last year's "The Invention of Lying".
The short answer is that this film is bound to satisfy neither people like Ash nor myself. It takes two opposing movie concepts and attempts to mind-meld them together. The end result is a flat finish to what started as a sparkling beverage.
The concept is a bold one that is initially adhered to closely before becoming far less pronounced by the ending: The film is set in a world where no one can lie. Mark Bellison (Gervais) is an unsuccessful screenwriter in a bizzaro version of Hollywood where blockbusters consist of fireside lectures on famous historical periods. He faces eviction after losing his job for failing to write an entertaining lecture about the 1400's. At the bank he goes to withdraw his last $300 to limp away from his home when he is asked how much he has in his account. The lie is unexpectedly birthed, told and believed and in short order. He walks out the front door with his $800 for rent and a star is born.
Sex and money are first on the list of dreams Bellison makes real for himself. The stakes are raised when he comforts his dying mother by basically inventing the idea of heaven. Word gets out about this knowledge and Belllison is quickly elevated to superhuman status.
That's as far as that pillar of the plot extends.
On the other side we have Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner) who is Bellison's object of affection the entire time. In the compulsory absence of any tact, McDoogles is brusque and insulting to Bellison. She only begins coming around to him because he receives messages from "The Man in the Sky."
Either one of the films contained in "...Lying" could be a potential classic. One is obviously about religion (Gervais is an athiest) and the other is about the importance of a reasonable amount of honesty in the pursuit of maintaining relationships. The ending is quick, forced and robs both concepts of the full flowering of ideas they deserved. It feels as if some pitch meeting took place that was initially rejected until the addition of a love story was grafted onto the trunk of the story.

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