The Invention of Lying (2009)
This was the movie Ricky Gervais was born to make. He wrote, directed, and starred in “The Invention of Lying”, a movie that hits just about every check on my personal checklist of what I look for in a movie. First there is a really interesting premise, that is actually delivered upon, a great cast including a ton of cameos, and finally it is a funny and heartwarming comedy. Now before you run for the hills, when I say funny and heartwarming, I do not mean cloying or tacky in the vein of Tyler Perry’s “Madea Goes To Hogwarts” or something. The movie takes place in an alternative universe where human beings have never evolved the ability to “lie”. As such, everyone is hilariously bluntly honest, like when Gervais character Mark is fired from his job and his long time secretary cordially says “I look forward to never seeing you again…” Since no one can say anything that is untrue, there is also no fiction, so all movies are historic documentaries. All of this changes one day when Mark, in a desperate moment, utters the first lie in the history of mankind. Of course this changes everything, and gives him something akin to a super power, as he can walk up to attractive women and say “The world will end unless we have sex right now…” and then panic ridden sex will surely ensue, or walk into a bank and tell them he needs a million dollars and when his balance only shows a penny, they assume it is a system error and fork over his million. What makes this movie work so well, is that Gervais doesn’t just go for broke exploiting the gimmick of the premise. Gervais in this movie reminded me so much of a young Bill Murray in his mannerisms and acting, and this is a movie that I predict will become my generation’s answer to the Murray classic Groundhog Day. All the other actors and actresses such as Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, do a tremendous job balancing what is on one level ridiculous sketch comedy level set ups and genuine human emotion. There are scenes in here that made me shed actual tears, and laugh riotously. The Invention of Lying is a damned good film, and that’s no lie.