The Invention of Lying (2009)

The Invention of Lying is a movie by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Louis C.K., Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Jeffrey Tambor, Tina Fey, John Hodgman, Jimmi Simpson, Martin Starr, Jason Bateman, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Guest, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Edward Norton. [Seriously, this movie is like Where’s Waldo?, only with known faces.]

In a world, where no human knows how to lie, things can be pretty cruel for a guy like Mark (Ricky Gervais): Not particularly attractive, successful or intelligent – and the world keeps telling him directly. After going out with the beautiful Anna (Jennifer Garner) who shoots him down the next day, being fired and about to be evicted, Mark is ready to just quit. That’s when he tells the world’s first lie. Unsure how he is able to do it or what exactly to do with that new ability, he jus tknows that his life is about to change.

I haven’t heard any good things about this movie beforehand [and it was again one of those films that even get a cinematic release in Austria]. But this movie was actually pretty good – good concept, good jokes and a fantastic cast.

The Invention of Lying has a strong concept and it sees it through right until the very end. And it works brilliantly. There’s the small moments of course, like the advertising or the signs, but there’s of course the sudden atheist twist: In a world without lying, there is no religion, there is no afterlife, there is no god.

And there’s also the very intersting – and very clear – distinction between white lies and “bad” lies: Telling somebody that everything is going to be fine, even if it might not be: good. Telling a woman that the world is going to end if she doesn’t sleep with you: bad.

And then there’s religion, which falls somewhere in between. To tell your dying mother that she won’t stop existing after her death is all perfectly fine and good. But when everybody starts believing it, suddenly it’s not that comfortable a thought anymore.

Ricky Gervais plays his usual character and he does so well. But the real star of the show is Jennifer Garner (and the hundred billion cameos) who delivers her lines with a perfectly straigt face.

Summarising: Watch it, unless you have a problem with the notion of religion as a lie.

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