The Invention Of Lying

The Invention Of Lying is a 2009 fantasy romantic comedy co-written & co-directed by Ricky Gervais and Mathew Robinson. The film The film stars Ricky Gervais as the first human with the ability to lie and has a supporting cast featuring Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Rob Lowe and Tina Fey. The movie has a not so subtle dig at religion, in particular Christianity.

The film is set in a city in current times but in an alternate universe or reality in which no human has the ability to lie and hence tell the truth at all times. This makes for harsh & blunt truths being said at all points, which comes out unintentionally cruel and ofcourse totally hilarious for us the viewers. As there is no lying there is no concept of religion or god/gods at all. As there is no fiction the film & television industry has no movies but documentary style narratives & lecture style historical readings. Mark Bellison is a lecture film writer who is struggling as he has been assigned the “boring” 1300 period and is about to get fired. He goes on a date with the more successful and pretty Anna McDoogles, who tells him that she is not physically attracted to him because of his appearance and his financial status but is only going out with him for dinner as a favour to their common friend Greg. Also Anna’s mother is pressurizing her to get married and have kids. Anna seems to enjoy his company though.

The next day he is fired from his job as his films are not drawing enough interest and his landlord evicts him as he has only $300 left and the due rent is $800. Mark goes to his bank to withdraw the $300 but as the system is down the teller asks him how much money is in his account. Something reacts in his brain and he says $800 remembering the due amount instead of $300, thereby telling the world’s first  lie. The system comes back on but instead of giving him only $300 as it shows in his account, the teller assumes that the computer is faulty and gives him $800! Mark tests out his new found ability to lie by telling a gorgeous woman that they must have sex or the world will end. She believes him ofcourse but he is unable to go through with it and pretends that he gets a call saying that the danger has passed. He then uses lies in preventing a police officer (Edward Norton) from arresting his friend Greg for drunk driving, getting money from a casino, and stopping his neighbour Frank Fawcett (Jonah Hill) from committing suicide. This last one makes him realize that he can do a lot of good for people as well by just lying to them. He then writes a screenplay about aliens invading the earth in the 1300, forging documents, and then that all the humans who remained had their memories wiped. The script is sold and he becomes wealthy from the sales of the movie.

Mark then asks out Anna again, hoping that his success plus the fact that she enjoyed talking to him will make her see beyond his appearance, but though she has a good time she says that she is still not attracted to him as if they were to have kids, she’d end up with “fat kids with snub noses” like him. As they finish dinner, Mark gets a call from the old age home – his mother has been taken to the hospital as she is near death. When he goes to see her, a tearful Mark consoles her and addresses her fear of eternal nothingness by creating the concept of an afterlife (though not mentioned as heaven) where everyone who dies has mansions of their own and gets to be with all their friends and family. She dies happy while the doctors and nurses appear awed by what he says. As news travels, a large crowd gathers outside his building to get more information about the afterlife. Spurred by Anna & Greg Mark comes up with “ten rules”, that he writes on the back of pizza boxes and that he talks to a “Man In The Sky” who controls everything and promises great rewards in the good place after you die, as long as you do no more than three “bad things”.

Later while they are sitting on a park, a now rich (living in a huge mansion) Mark asks Anna about the possibility of marriage and Anna asks him, if they marry, would his now being rich and famous make their children more physically attractive. Mark wants to lie but does not because of his feelings for Anna. Meanwhile, Mark’s rival at work, Brad Kessler, who used to be extremely mean to him, pursues Anna romantically and Anna feels that genetically they are a perfect match. As he can now have the one thing that Mark cannot have, Brad brags about his looks & physique to Mark, which makes Anna uncomfortable. They get engaged and Anna invites Mark to attend – in a scene where Anna hasn’t seen Mark in a few weeks, the depressed Mark hasn’t cut or shaved his hair in a while and comes to the door in a robe looking like Jesus (nearly killed me) – but Mark tries to get her to break off the engagement. Later Anna sees some boys bulling a chubby kid in the park eating ice cream and she runs to his support. Wiping away his tears, she cheers him up.

On the day of the wedding Greg encourages Mark to shave his beard and cut his hair and pursue Anna. Mark goes to the venue (a church like building, where you can “sit and think about the man in the sky” where he objects to the marriage, but the officiant informs him that only the Man in the Sky can stop the wedding. Brad and Anna both ask Mark to ask the Man in the Sky what Anna should do but Mark refuses to say anything and leaves, wanting Anna to choose for herself. Anna walks out and Mark confesses his ability to lie and tells her that the Man In The Sky was made up. Anna struggles to comprehend the concept and asks why he did not lie to convince her to marry him; Mark states that it “wouldn’t count”. Anna confesses that she loves him. Some time later, the now-pregnant Anna and Mark are shown married with a son, who, it is implied, has inherited his father’s ability to lie.

Funny, silly and sweet and it has some awesome moments without being too in your face or slap-sticky in nature. It’s a different kind of humourous movie and may need an open mind to fully appreciate it. Nevertheless, I’d recommend this movie for everyone to watch. 8.5 outta 10!

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