Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Invention of Lying (2009)

The first shocking thing about this movie is that Ricky Gervais made an unfunny comedy, something I thought could never happen. It's not a total waste, however, because there are some very interesting ideas about religion embedded in this film. In fact, you can pretty much tell that the original germ of an idea for this was to make a satire, along the lines of Being There, about the roots of religion. If you've seen the ads for this film then you basically know the plot. It imagines a world in which no one has every told a lie, then along comes Ricky Gervais, who discovers that humans have the ability to say something that is not the truth. He doesn't even have a word for what it is he is doing, and he uses his new power to get money and to try and get sex. The interesting part comes when he is sitting beside his mother on her deathbed. She only has a few hours to live and she is terrified about the eternal nothingness, so he tells her a lie about a man in the sky, and a place you go after you die, where there is no pain. The word spreads and, of course, the world changes.

Just typing out this plot makes me realize how great this film could have been. One of the biggest problems is that they shoehorn all the interesting stuff about religion into a trite and unbelievable rom-com plot. There is no chemistry between Gervais and Jennifer Garner, and the stuff about them falling in love is pretty terrible.

1 comment:

  1. I had this exact same conversation with my friend on Saturday night. We thought what a great idea, if only they had gone to the next step to flesh it out. That moment he has with his mother when she's about to die is quite good. You see how talented he is as an actor. Really digging the site.Poetry mondays are GREAT.