Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Invention of Lying

I thoroughly enjoyed the last Ricky Gervais movie, Ghost Town, and found it funny with a heart. The Invention of Lying isn't quite as funny, and doesn't have as big a heart. That isn't to say, however, that it's not funny with a good message. It's just not as strongly written.

Mark (Gervais) lives in a world where everyone tells the truth. And, trust me, they do, constantly. So when Mark finally gets a date with his dream girl, Anna (Jennifer Garner), she tells him she's not attracted to him, really, and that they would end up having short, fat kids, so there is no future in the relationship, let alone a second date. However, when Mark tells his mother, who is afraid of dying and being surrounded by nothingness, that she can expect a better world beyond, Mark becomes viewed as a prophet who speaks to God, and he becomes a lot more interesting to Anna.

Gervais' sense of humor is terribly infectious, and you can't but identify with the short and chubby actor. Garner is a bit of a revelation in The Invention of Lying; we've seen her as a spy, as a ditz, as a serious mother, but I've never seen her do humor, and she's terrific in the role of Anna, a woman who knows she's perfect and says so with such charm and comic timing.

The only problem, perhaps, with the movie is the script: it's one idea, and it's hard to see where it can go. Screenwriters Gervais and Matthew Robinson, who also co-directed, try to turn this idea into a romantic comedy, but it doesn't really work. Still, if you like Gervais or Garner, and a really interesting idea, take a look.

Thumb's up.


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