Rental Corner: The turth behind “The Invention of Lying”
Posted by moviebuffmel90
It seems Ricky Gervias had a hard career and a lot of hate. I recall seeing a Toyota commercial reflecting this on how his son is going down the list of hate mail and ticking it off. After seeing the recent new Muppet movie and “The Invention of Lying,” it brings me to wonder if its his persona on screen or off. And seeing how I don’t see much of his shtick off-screen, its probably for the best as his on-screen persona is actually likeable. Unlike Adam Sandler where he’s a goof in his recent flicks and kind during interviews, Ricky is funny in movies but from what I heard, not so in public. Probably should do more research on that. But in any case, what “The Invention of Lying” does show is that at least Ricky does have a sense of humor.
The premise for this feature is very clever. Mark Bellison (Ricky) is a struggling movie writer who lives within an entire world where no one can tell a single lie. Everyone says the exact truth as it is without over-exaggerating or fibbing. Now of course, they do over-exaggerate with the truth but only when its talking about someone’s looks or how they cook. This is a concept that sounds like it could be done in the wrong hands, but here it actually works for some really ingenious jokes. Advertisers pitch Coca-Cola as it is and not by the enjoyment factor. Movies are created like lectures by old scholars and Mark’s “lectures” on the Black Plague don’t seem to interest people compared to events like Napoleon that are more exciting.
Then one day, he somehow manages to create the world’s first lie and starts using it for personal gain. It is what you expect but its handled well. Does he use this for getting famous? Yes. Does he use this for obtaining riches? Of course. But does he use this ability to help others? Well, that is where this movie gets interesting but a bit uneven. Without giving too much away, he uses the lying ability to soften the death of someone close to him by saying there is a world waiting for them when they die. Unfortunately, this catches wind of many as they start to ask them is there truly a place that exists beyond death. So as you can guess, he tells them about a world that is full of riches and the world is controlled by an unseen man in the sky.
This is where things got uneven for me. The idea of satirizing real life and how we can’t escape the truth suddenly becomes a bizarre religious parody. Not to say its bad but this tone feels way different from what was established earlier and almost feels a little too Monty Python familiar. And don’t get me wrong, I love Monty Python and their shtick but it doesn’t fit here. To be fair, there are some creative visual gags like a take on the Ten Commandments with 10 facts written down on two pizza boxes but this material is written in a fair different style that feels way too weird when it comes in. There’s even a moment when he gets depressed about his love interest and grows enough facial hair to look like a certain religious figure who you already might know. Again, these are great gags and concepts but it just feels a little out of place for me.
When the movie was on the world and how it couldn’t resist lying, it works. But when it stared becoming a comedic commentary on religion, it felt strange to me. I think this was handled better in movies like Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Bruce Almighty because the universe they set up their shtick in fits. Both are comedic take on religion without feeling like its a bash on it. But on the other hand, the Invention of Lying does show the consequences of his lying but not to full greater extent that I hoped for. Its there but it doesn’t feel like a bigger payoff. It does show that you can’t save people with a simple fib and you can’t change others with a fake truth. Life doesn’t work like that and you just have to live with choice you prefer. A world without lying or a world with one.
So, I can’t say this was a bad comedy as I did laugh at the jokes that were funny and I can’t remember a single time I didn’t. At least, till the religious stuff and the predicable love story tossed in. But does that make it bad? No. Most comedies you come across will have problems and some elements will not stick that much with some viewers. I loved the idea of a world with no truth and I was engaged with it. The religious stuff I could do without but its part of the plot so I can let it pass by. It does offer some creative jokes (verbally and visually) but I feel it was done better in other movies. Still, I fun laughing at it and I enjoyed seeing Ricky Gervias trying to twist a world that has no idea what falsehood is to the point of history being rewritten. Its also a rare comedy that shows you don’t need a big budget and heavy special effects to make a good joke work. If you want a good laugh on a boring Saturday night, this one is for you. 100% honest.