Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday At the Movies: The Invention of Lying

Monday's Movie is hosted by Sheri at A Novel Menagerie.

The Invention of Lying (2009)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Written & Directed By: Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson

From Netflix:

In a land where no one fibs, fiction doesn't exist and movies consist of actors simply reading historical facts, unsuccessful screenwriter Mark (Ricky Gervais) gains fame and fortune -- and maybe the girl of his dreams (Jennifer Garner) -- by saying things that aren't true. Gervais and Matthew Robinson co-write and co-direct this mayhem-filled comedy that co-stars Rob Lowe. Look for cameos by Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Browsing through the current movie releases, nothing stood out for the past few weeks. There are movies out now that I do want to see. Only, on DVD. I can think of a few movies that have yet to come out that I will definitely be catching in the theater later this year. I just have to be patient. Anyhow, when Florinda from The 3 R's Blog recommended The Invention of Lying, Anjin and I decided to take her up on seeing it.

Comedy is not my favorite movie genre. My husband jokes that I have no sense of humor. My sense of humor is just, well, different. And I really have to be in the mood to enjoy comedy. I must have been in the mood this weekend because I laughed quite a few times during The Invention of Lying. It was quite funny. But then, Ricky Gervais always seems to be able to make me laugh.

The romance plot line is pretty weak admittedly and seemed to be dragged out a little too long. Jennifer Garner as Anna plays the beautiful but brutally honest love interest. Gervais' character Mark is a down and out television writer who has no luck with women. While Anna is ever practical, Mark is much more a feeling person. He is not like everyone else.

I was most fascinated by the society Gervais and Matthew Robinson had created, a world in which no one could lie and everyone was quite direct. The word "truth" does not even exist. The very idea of fiction was unheard of in that world. The movie offered a glimpse at how dreary the world would be without the use of imagination--how stunted creativity could be. Mark's lies were not without consequence though, as he quickly discovered.

Compassion and empathy seemed to be missing to a large degree in this alternate reality. The invention of the lie by Mark changed all that. Sort of. He was the only one who could tell untruths and so everyone believed every word he said. Mark's lies made life more interesting, and he was able to obtain respect and material possessions he had never had before. The only thing he couldn't get was the girl.

I can see some movie watchers not particularly taking to this movie. The whole idea of a lie possibly being good might offend some. And then there is the fact that Gervais and Robinson take a poke at religion, one of the big lies being that there is a man in the sky who controls everything. That might offend more. I thought it was actually quite amusing though.

Disclosure: My husband treated me to the movie, paying the early bird matinee price. We each enjoyed an overpriced movie theater pretzel and shared a bottle of water (remind me next time to bring one from home). We thought at first we would be the only two people in the entire theater, but we totaled seven by the time the movie actually began. No cell phones ringing, no babies crying, only the occasional noise from outside the theater coming in from the door the staff forgot to close.

© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
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  1. Comedy is one of my favorite genres. I love a good laugh. Haha!

    I also enjoy movies with Jennifer Garner in them. I haven't watch this, though.

  2. I've been eyeing this one for awhile. Always been a fan of Ricky Gervais. Thanks for your take on it!

  3. Gervais is a funny man, but I'm like you. I can watch a comedy twice...the first time I will laugh until my stomach hurts, the second time I get annoyed. It is totally dependant on my mood! (We sneak all kinds of things into movies, even those little half bottles of wine. They charge too darned much for everything!)

  4. Wow, I skimmed right over this one in the lineup! Now, after your review, I'm going to take another look. This might actually be something I like!

    And, like you, only certain kinds of comedy appeal to me.

    I like bringing water from home, too, but I often forget.

  5. I'm glad you took my recommendation...and DIDN'T hate the movie :-). I'd have felt guilty if you had! (I'm posting my review of it tomorrow.)

    I tend to agree with you about the romantic subplot, but I usually like Jennifer Garner (although I swear she's thinner since having two babies than she was when she was on Alias). Aside from that, though, I really enjoyed this - it made me laugh a lot, and as you note, it brings up some very intriguing concepts. I don't think I'd like living in such a literal world.

    Great review, Wendy!

  6. I've been wondering about this movie since I first saw it advertised. I think I may like it. Glad you found it amusing. How nice of hubby to treat you like that. Aren't the prices just unreal at the theatre? I always sneak snacks and water in my very big purse. lol.

  7. My teenage son saw this and thought it was pretty good too!

  8. It does look cute.

    Oh please. Lying might be offensive? Civilization as we know it would topple if people couldn't lie.

  9. Alice - My husband's a big fan of Jennifer Garner's. I really liked her in this one.

    Bookshelf Monstrosity - If you see it, I'd love to know what you think.

    Sandy - I really like Gervais. That is me too when it comes to comedies!

    Laurel-Rain - Had my friend not recommended it, I probably would have skipped right over it too. I'm glad she mentioned it. I always forgot to bring water with me too! I should make myself a note, but I'll probably forget to look at it.

  10. Florinda - Haha I trust your recommendations. I kept telling my husband that you recommended it so it has to be good. :-)

    Dar - I think you might like it too. The prices at the theater are way too much. We've snuck things in too before. Sometimes I forget though. :-(

    Kathleen - I'm glad your son liked it too. :-)

    Carrie (Patience) - It was good for a Saturday morning/afternoon. :-)

  11. Movies would be awfully boring in their world, wouldn't it?

  12. Booklogged - Oh, they were! Movies and television consisted of a famous person sitting in a chair reading the script which was basically a reading of a historical event. While that would be good some of the time--definitely not all of the time.

  13. I think I missed Florinda's recommendation, but I ended up seeing this this past weekend as well! I thought it was cute and kind of sweet. :)

  14. I think I will wait for this one to come out on DVD. The movies are so expensive anymore...!!

  15. Ricky makes me laugh and I really want to see this. Glad you liked it.

  16. Amy - Florinda wrote a wonderful review
    of the movie today. Much better than mine. :-) I am glad you enjoyed it, Amy!

    Staci - Depending on when and where you go, they can be quite expensive. It's something hubby and I don't mind splurging on now and then though.

    Stacy - Gervais was great in this. I hope you get to see it!

  17. This does look like a good movie. I wouldn't pay to go see it in a theater, but I will rent it.

  18. I've wanted to see this movie for a while. I like Gervais a lot and several of the other characters. But I was not sure what this movie was about! Now I understand better and I think I will enjoy this movie. My husband will love that they poke fun at religion and I won't be offended since very, very little offends. Thank you for writing about this one!

  19. Heidenkind - I hope you enjoy it if you do see it!

    Amy (7 Tails) - I hadn't really been sure what to expect either, Amy. I'm glad we went to see it. :-)

  20. Comedy isn't my favorite genre either, but this one looks appealing to me (maybe on video, though). We went and saw Couples Retreat last night and even though Vince Vaughn plays the same role in every film he does, he doesn't fail to make me laugh. Probably a very different kind of humor than this one, though. Have you seen Ghost Town?

  21. Nice that hubby treated and the theatre experience was nice.

  22. Trish - I haven't decided if I want to see Couples Retreat. My husband's kind of interested so we may rent it down the road.

    I haven't seen Ghost Town yet. It's on my netflix list. :-)

    Sheri - He's a sweetie that way. :-)

  23. Ghost Town is better than Couples Retreat. The later is basically exactly how it looks but Ghost Town has some nice depth.

  24. Adore Jennifer Garner but she needs to find another 13 Going on 30 [if you haven't seen it, netflix it!]. Gervais funny but Ghost Town was awful and this I'm not aching to see. It was filmed all around Lowell, near Boston, and I called to Ricky and waved one day and took some pics from a distance.

  25. Trish - I look forward to seeing Ghost Town then. :-)

    Writergal - I though 13 Going on 30 was cute, but nothing special. I think Big spoiled me on movies with similar themes.

    That's cool that you got to see Ricky Gervais while he was filming!


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