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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Invention of Lying (**)


The Invention of Lying is the best movie of the year.  I'm lying.  Ricky Gervais co-writes, co-directs, and stars as a fat loser who lives in an alternate world where no one in the world ever lies.  Everyone tells the truth all the time.  Not even lying by omission exists, or little white lies.  Hard, cold truth always.  The first 20 minutes or so were really good, with every character blurting out any thought they have no matter how negative or insulting. Gervais' self-deprecating style of humor involves his character calling himself a fat, dumpy loser followed by every one else calling him the same. The novelty of brutal honesty for laughs quickly wears off, however, and the concept reveals itself to be a clever SNL skit dragged out to 90 minutes.  The all-star appearances by Louis CK, Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Rob Lowe, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor, Jonah Hill, and Edward Norton each momentarily distract from the wildly unbelievable turns the story takes and the rote, formulaic conclusion it reaches. The first act promised a different, better movie than what it eventually became.  I did like the clever, underlying themes of how the little white lies we tell in real life actually do help people and can make life better.  Lies don't always make Baby Jesus cry.