Magazine article The Christian Century

The Invention of Lying

Magazine article The Christian Century

The Invention of Lying

Article excerpt

The Invention of Lying.

Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson. Starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe and Tina Fey.

In the make-believe world of The Invention of Lying, everyone strictly obeys God's ninth commandment. Alas, in spinning this ambitious morality play, the filmmakers violate a screenwriting commandment: thou shalt not get cold feet in the third act.

The characters are truthful not because they want to be; they just don't know any better. Their DNA doesn't permit them to lie to their spouses, call in sick when they're feeling fine or tell their children that Santa is real. Of course, this also means they can't fudge the truth to spare others' feelings.

This brutal honesty makes for a very funny first hour. We meet Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais), a chubby writer whose job with Lecture Films Motion Picture Studios is in jeopardy because his truth-and-only-the-truth scripts are so boring. (The movies here are just narrators reading dry facts to the audience.) Mark is smitten with the beautiful Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner), who would never dream of getting seriously involved with such a genetic loser but agrees to go out with him as a favor to her cousin, Mark's best friend (the comedian Louis C. K.).

This first date is hilarious, as we are immersed in a world without tact. (Anna apologizes for being slow to answer the door, explaining that she was busy masturbating.) This scene--including dinner, where the waiter talks about the meaninglessness of his existence--sets a perfect tone for the rest of the film's expository section. We meet Mark's loser friends, suicidal neighbor (Jonah Hill), timid boss (Jeffrey Tambor), snarky secretary (Tina Fey) and handsome and obnoxious office archrival (Rob Lowe). These archetypal characters are wittier than usual because they express their contempt for Mark openly but without malice. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.