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The Invention of Lying

Year: 2009
Production Co: Lin Pictures
Director: Ricky Gervais/Matthew Robinson
Producer: Ricky Gervais
Writer: Ricky Gervais/Matthew Robinson
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey

Yes, you have seen the premise before, in early Jim Carrey vehicle Liar Liar. This time, sad sack Mark Bellison (Gervais) lives in a world where the lie hasn't been invented, and he does so. It's not a bad premise, but there are two problems. The first is that you realise early on how little material there is to plumb from the idea as the laughs run out before the halfway mark (either that or there was more comic material to be mined and a lazy writing effort by Gervais didn't find it).

Second is that with no clear rules about the science behind this world, we're left with the ridiculous extreme, where people don't just not know how to lie, they don't know how to shut up about their every thought - the object of Mark's affection, Anna (Garner), matter-of-factly telling him the reason she's not ready for their date is because she's been upstairs masturbating.

Throw in a stupid extended sequence where Mark becomes the new messiah by giving people hope of life after death and dictating the new commandments on pizza boxes and the whole plot spends most of the time seriously off the rails.

Worse still, it turns out to be another tired love-yourself-the-way-you-are morality tail, and any sign of Gervais the edgy comic is buried deep. Here, he's Gervais the Hollywhore through and through. Either Gervais himself or everyone else are seriously miscast.

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