Nothing Reinventive about The Invention of Lying
Maybe I missed the point of this alleged parody or perhaps there is no point to it. I thought the film was simply drivel, and I found it hard to stay awake as it rolled on.
Why did I choose to see it? None of the newly-released movies appealed to me. I decided to see this picture, which has been out for several weeks, after reading a description of it in the Daily News. The reviewer, who gave it 3 ½ stars, wrote: "Ricky Gervais co-wrote, co-directed and stars in this Groundhog Day-like satire about a man who tells the first fib in a world where everyone only speaks the truth. Though the high-concept plot really only works in fists and starts, Gervais is always fun, the supporting cast is in the right groove and there's a gusty religious parody at the heart of it that's admirable." The Times critic Manohla Dargis described the film as "the makings of a classic." Ridiculous.
Following my Friday night Bloomberg radio program, from 6-7 p.m., 1130 on the a.m. dial., I rushed to the City Cinemas Village East theater on Second Avenue at 12th Street to make the 7:25 p.m. show. This old theater, where I have seen many good films, was long ago converted into a multiplex. You might rightfully ask why I'm spending so much time on matters unrelated to the film. The answer is that there is very little to say about this one-trick pony.
The movie displays a world where everyone tells the unvarnished truth no matter how painful. The main character, screenwriter Mark (Ricky Gervais), takes out for the first time a young, attractive woman, Anna (Jennifer Garner), who tells him that he is fat, unattractive, and doesn't have the genes to father desirable children. She also announces, when she opens her apartment door, that she's been masturbating. This candid remark seems to appeal to the critics. Brad (Rob Lowe) is Mark's competitor for Anna's attention. Halfway through the film Mark, for unknown reasons, begins to tell several lies to advance his own fortunes. He speaks to his dying mother about the man in the sky - God - who will give her great joy in the next world where she will live in her own house.
I kid you not when I say I sat there wondering is there nothing more to this film? Am I overlooking something? I don't think so, and I couldn't wait for the lights to go up. Sitting in the theater were no more than a dozen other people who were probably suffering along with me. The performances of the cast were very good insofar as the script allowed them to exhibit their acting abilities.
HS said: "This is one on which I completely disagree with the senior critic. I found the film quite entertaining; that is the reason I go to the movies except when I am looking for moral uplift. Of course the plot is preposterous, that is artistic license. You pay your money and go into an unreal world. Basically, the film is a parody of religion and dating rituals, an unusual combination. What can I say, except that I thought the movie was funny. Not a great film, but you leave the theater smiling. The acting was good, the pace was fast, the characters were interesting, although the protagonist's drunken stooge jumped the shark. Clearly, either you like the picture or you don't. Neither is right or wrong, it is a matter of taste. As my father told his children often, de gustibus non est disputandum."