A comedy set in a world where no one has ever lied, until a writer seizes the opportunity for personal gain.
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I was fortunate enough to watch this film in a packed house in one of those older theaters. Not the new modern cinemas where the chairs are like first class seats as there's a lot of room for your legs and the seats are designed so there can never be a person's head in the way of your view unless Yao Ming happens to sit in front of you.
This was an old style cinema like the ones I grew up in. The seats were cramped, there was no holding area for your beverage and my view was between the two heads of the older couple sitting in front of you. In a strange way I like watching films like this because it's a great way for you to tell if you like the film or not. If the movie is entertaining then you forget all of the obstacles. But if the movie becomes boring you feel your uncomfortable surroundings even more. Forget the advance screenings the studios do where they have common folks fill out cards to determine their interest. Just put them in a cramped theater with two 6'10 guys sitting in front of them and see if they get up during the screening or not.
If something is entertaining then you'll sit through anything. There are almost a million people a year who sit in frozen conditions on a bench to watch football games and the view is usually not that good. But if there team is winning then they don't realize how cold their backside is. And if you're laughing at the moving images that are occurring in front of you at the cinema then you forget how uncomfortable your legs are.
That's why they show comedies during flights in coach. No reasonable person should have to sit in a cramped setting like that. But if you have something to laugh at then it's not as bad.
The Invention of Lying is an enjoyable experience and I only realized that the left side of my leg was asleep until the credits rolled. I was that into the movie.
There's a nice social commentary in this film that discusses vanity in our society. How people judge each other by how they look instead of what's inside of their soul. And the creative team that brought us TWO successful Office TV series are tying to say that a little lying isn't too bad in our society. It makes us feel more and it gives us meaning. Interesting thought.
And I'm very surprised that no one else has thought of this concept before. It seems like a gadget idea that a Hollywood exec would of thought of years ago so Jim Carrey or Ben Stiller could star in it. But no one did until Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson and we're better for it.
Gervais is the master at uncomfortable comedy. He writes himself into the most awkward situation he can think of creates comedy gold out of it. By doing that he's able to throw in sentimental moments that would otherwise be wonky in most films. But it works in The Invention of Lying because we need it to balance the rest of the awkward moments.
This should be an interesting start for Ricky Gervais. A man who's career didn't begin until the age of 40 has had a lot of success in the second half of his life. Perhaps because he's learned and experienced so much in the first half. Could Gervais be a movie star? Perhaps because he's that everyman who says and thinks what everyone is thinking but doesn't want to say themselves.
Nice religious touches in this film too. Perhaps this was how organized religion began. People want answers and will listen to people who have the power and authority to give it to them. The message in the end of The Invention of Lying is that we always have the answers inside of us. It's just really hard to get to. And if you're always telling the truth and not using your imagination, then it's really hard.