I’m kind of surprised that The Invention of Lying hasn’t earned more controversy. In fact, I’ve heard very little about it except that it’s Ricky Gervais’ directorial debut. Although, I have a theory. If a film actually has to be good to gain controversy, then it’s clear why this movie has hidden under the radar.
Yes, sadly, as much as I enjoy Gervais’ slight, dry humor (as is evident in the original Office and HBOs short-lived Extras), he doesn’t have what it takes to create an engaging, funny, comedy.
In the fictional world we’re presented in the film, no one can tell a lie (we find this out via cheesy, unneeded voice over, a tell for novice filmmakers). Gervais’ character discovers he’s the only person on Earth that can lie. So naturally he advances his career, steals a lot of money and, almost, gets laid.
Gervais’ acting isn’t the problem (nor is Jennifer Garner’s or Rob Lowe’s or Tina Fey’s), no, they all exercise great comedic timing that will make you… chuckle once or twice. The problem is in the story and filmmaking in general. The script is so lame at parts that I could actually imagine the actors rolling their eyes off camera.
Oh, the controversy, right. Is it bad to spoil a film if I don’t recommend it from the get-go? In short, Gervais (an outspoken Atheist in real life) presents a film where the pleasant ending is that people find out that there isn’t a God, or an afterlife. It’s pretty ballsy, really, but I just simply wasn’t sold.
Not even a slew of spirited cameos (the best of which is a crazed cop) can save the film. Maybe in finer-tuned hands, The Invention of Lying could’ve soared. Not so much here. C