Published Sep 23, 2009Revolving around a half-baked concept that loses steam in the second half, when it becomes bogged down in rote romance, The Office (UK) star Ricky Gervais makes his bid (once again) for American stardom.
The film is set in an alternate universe identical to this one, except the entire concept of dishonesty is completely foreign. Gervais plays Mark Bellison, a schlubby screenwriter who bombs a date with the girl of his dreams (Jennifer Garner, beaming a little too brightly at all the "honest" insults she gets to lob at Gervais) and is about to lose his job and apartment. Out of nowhere, he tells the world's first lie and sets in motion a chain of cataclysmic events, inevitably culminating in lessons of life, love and honesty.
This is the kind of vehicle Jim Carrey would find himself in, circa 1997, and while Gervais has the appropriate comic sweetness, his self-deprecating humour isn't enough to properly propel the story to the heights of hilarity it could surely have reached. The endless parade of cameos, while amusing, stands more as an example of how stocked Gervais's Rolodex is rather than actually contributing a substantial amount of clarity or hilarity.
The visual gags are the most effective, especially the building names used in this alternate universe (a retirement home is named "A Sad Place for Old People to Die"). While lying is a foreign concept to this world it would also seem tact is as well.
While The Invention of Lying will certainly help to raise Gervais's profile to American audiences, and rightfully so, this is merely a stepping-stone towards a fully realized and hilarious project. (Warner)