The Invention of Lying
Time/place: 4:10 showing at Ocean Ranch 7 (w/Tex) with Nick
When I first heard about this movie, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Then I saw the trailer and realized it was a comedy – how disappointing. Then some online review mentioned how much heart the movie had and dared to reference Frank Capra as an inspiration, so I was again slightly interested. Then, I saw it. Follow the up and down patterned wave of interest versus disinterest I just mentioned to figure out what I thought of it ;).
First, I’m not a fan of Ricky Gervais’ comedy. I don’t loathe the fella, I just don’t think he’s funny. That’s alright, I wasn’t interested in his movie for that, and if had been charming and lovely I wouldn’t have minded the obligatory comedic sections. Second, the movie takes an odd turn in the second half to mock Christianity (for comedic purposes only), which felt out-of-place more than anything, yet again… if the movie’s charms had previously won me over, I wouldn’t have minded. So, I didn’t like The Invention of Lying. It’s more than that, though. I hated it.
My goodness, why such strong wording? Well, that’s because I really WANTED to like it. It was a great idea. The world it created, though, was just asinine. I understand that it’s a world where nobody tells lies, but the population were constantly blurting out whatever came into their minds, even when they weren’t being asked. My favorite color is green, but if I don’t offer that up in casual conversation does that mean I’m lying? Of course not. However, in the world of this movie characters are constantly saying things that may be what they feel, but are completely unnecessary to share. It’s all done for laughs, of course, and that is what turned me off to the movie so quickly. This movie has a great concept behind it, but that concept is cheapened and made ridiculous all for a few laughs. There are a couple of emotional parts, one especially which launches the aforementioned Christian mockery of the second half, but by that point I was so checked out by the ludicrous nature of the characters that I was no longer invested and didn’t care. The characters do have normal, human reactions when it’s convenient, yet they are also very often inhuman and tactless for the sake of comedy. Even though I’d obviously prefer the more realistic, touching route, I’d almost just as rather it stuck to straight comedy so as to avoid the weird and uneven nature the movie actually presents.
That’s the whole thing – it was uneven, and I was never exactly sure what it was trying to do. There were moments of great heart, analyzing the ideas of lies and their effect on people – posing the question of "lying for a better purpose" and all. However, this is all cheapened by characters that respond like robots, accepting whatever they’re told. The characters, most often, are missing the very elements that make humanity: creative thinking, analytical mindsets, compassion. This made it very confusing, because the story is supposedly about lying in a world where people only say the truth – yet the world was really bizarre and unnatural beyond that fact, so I wasn’t really sure WHAT it was about. The worst part, though, was the main plot point – the love story. Our lead character is enchanted by a girl who never shows any signs of not being shallow and mindless, yet he pursues her relentlessly even as he is trying to point out his inner beauty to her. Eventually, she does let her genuine feelings show through more and more as he apparently brings it out of her, but what the movie tries to present as this great interest is based mostly on the fact that she’s hot – since in this world people don’t really have much of a personality. So, it becomes about "following your heart," which is great… but what on earth does that have to do with only telling the truth? It’s as if the movie is attempting to say that love, faith, compassion, creativity, and more are all related to lies. That, in order to obtain any of these natural facets, we need to be able to lie to ourselves? Very confusing.
It wasn’t ALL bad… just mostly ;). Ricky Gervais is a fine actor, proving himself in a couple of emotional scenes. Jennifer Garner is just as good and absolutely adorable – her ever-present girl-next-door charm on overload here. The few tender moments were well done, and I did chuckle a couple of times. I may have despised the movie overall, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention these few things before checking out.
So, that’s that. No spoiler-ific review continuation today because I think I’ve done enough here. I was extremely disappointed in The Invention of Lying, because for all of its brilliance in concept and a few beautiful moments, the stupidity of the majority of the movie ruined it all for me. I saw the great potential in it, but too often that potential was marred for a cheap laugh or by the poor scriptwriting. Nick loved it, so you might to, but for me… it was just another missed opportunity.