"The Biggest Lie of All"
THE INVENTION OF LYING is a disappointing, lackluster comedy about an ordinary fellow living in a world where people only tell the truth, who discovers how to lie and ends up using it to make his life and the world a better place.
Mark Bellison (played by Ricky Gervais) is a rather unremarkable, so-called loser. He lives in an alternate reality in which lying – even the concept of a lie – does not exist. Everyone speaks the truth blatantly with no thought or consideration for others. Having been fired from his job, Mark finds himself short on cash with his rent due and decides to lie to the bank teller about the amount of money in his account. Well, in a world where every word is assumed to be absolute truth, Mark easily gets the money he needs and realizes that his newfound ability will help him rise to fame and fortune, and possibly help him win the girl of his dreams, Anna, played by Jennifer Garner. He even discovers that telling lies can make the people around him happier and more at peace.
As his sick mother lays dying in the hospital fearing the empty nothingness waiting for her, Mark tells her that she will go to a place where there is eternal love and happiness, and that there will be mansion waiting for her there. Hospital employees who believe he is telling the truth overhear his lies about the afterlife. This propels Mark to the center of the world’s attention, as people are desperate to know what happens to them when they die. Not wanting to admit his guilt, Mark soon finds himself inventing the biggest lie of all – that there is a “man in the sky” who controls everything.
Mark perpetuates his lie by writing ten “rules” about the “man in the sky” and the afterlife on two pizza box “tablets” – rules like everyone will get free ice cream when they die, if you do bad things you will go to a bad place, the “man in the sky” decides who lives and who dies as well as who goes to the good place and who goes to the bad place, the “man in the sky” is responsible for all the good things and bad things that happen in the world, and, even if the “man in the sky” does bad stuff to you, he will make up for it by giving you lots of good stuff when you die, and on and on.
As the story continues, Mark wholeheartedly pursues Anna with hopes of finally having a romantic relationship with her, if only she could overcome her superficial desire to marry a handsome man with a perfect genetic makeup – something Mark doesn’t have. Suffice it to say that by the end of the movie Mark gets what he wants without any earthly consequences for all of his lies.
THE INVENTION OF LYING, though containing some unique ideas, original humor, and some interesting insight into what constitutes truth and what constitutes a lie, is ultimately unconvincing and abhorrently irreverent. The acting is nothing remarkable as Ricky Gervais plays the same type of character as he does in every movie and Jennifer Garner completely overacts, making her role unbelievable and unlikable. For the most part, the movie relies on its sexual content as the source of humor and the line between truth and lies is left to be morally ambiguous, especially considering that there are no consequences shown for Mark’s lies and he continues to be rewarded for his behavior.
Also, although the movie is a satire, when it compares the effect of telling the truth on people to telling lies, it is greatly disproportionate, with the end result that lying can be a good thing because it makes people happy and peaceful. The movie seems to inaccurately portray what telling the truth looks like – the writers’ and directors’ idea of truth is more like people acting without inhibitions or wisdom by always saying the first thing that pops into their heads. The message seems to be that people who always tell the truth don’t have love and consideration for others.
The biggest concern is that, during Mark’s parody on Moses, his ultimate lie is about God (“the man in the sky”) and Heaven (the “good place”). The whole biblical concept of God is painted as one big, fat lie. Of course, this is all done for the purpose of humor, but the movie’s intent is clear: to make a blatant attack on Christianity, biblical truth, religion, and morality.
THE INVENTION OF LYING could have been very clever and even uplifting. Instead, it is an abhorrent humanist movie that mocks God, faith, Jesus Christ, Moses, and morality. It also contains crude sexual content and a message that lying can be a good thing.
(HHH, AbAbAb, B, PaPa, L, S, AA, DD, MM) Very strong humanist, anti-Christian, anti-biblical, anti-God worldview where God and Christianity are mocked by main character, which presents “Man in the Sky” (aka God) and Heaven as being a lie in order to make people feel hopeful about what happens after they die and protagonist even says at the end that he made it all up, including a parody on the Bible character of Moses and the Ten Commandments is played for laughs, painting of main character holding two pizza box “tablets” is on a church wall, main character resembles iconic paintings of Jesus at one point in the movie, and the satirical humor of telling the truth makes lying look like a good and necessary thing, although there is a light moral element where the idea that a man and woman are committed to each other in marriage for only as long as they want to be married is made to look ridiculous, plus some strong pagan content where people’s lifestyles are devoid of God and morality; six obscenities, no profanities and some scatological humor with a reference to poop and character throws up in car but not depicted; no violence; strong sexual content includes crude references to masturbation, sexual arousal, character expresses that he wants to have sexual relations, character tells woman that the world is going to end unless they fornicate right away, characters have a complete disregard for reserving sex just for marriage and character even tells woman “don’t have sex until you are married” because he wants her for himself, woman gives man a coupon for birthday sex, men discuss touching women’s breasts, and other minor sexual references; no nudity; alcohol use depicted with characters drinking in bar, character gets drunk and then drives, character lays in bed all day drinking, characters drink beer, and one character says he wants to drink lots of alcohol because it will help him to die sooner; no smoking but one drug reference where policeman says that he has a cocaine addiction; and, lying, character contemplates suicide but is too afraid to go through with it, character is called a fat homosexual (but in offensive terms), a retirement home is labeled as “A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People,” satirical humor includes an irreverence for elderly people and blatant mockery of God, Heaven, the concept of salvation, and Moses, woman rejects man based on his looks but eventually changes her perspective, and lying is portrayed as a good thing as people become happier when they aren’t been told the truth.
THE INVENTION OF LYING is a disappointing, lackluster comedy starring Ricky Gervais (“Jer-vay”) as Mark Bellison. Mark is a rather unremarkable loser. He lives in an alternate reality in which lying – even the concept of a lie – does not exist. After Mark discovers how to lie, he ends up using it to propel himself to fame and fortune, and to make the people around him happier and more at peace. The movie also depict Mark making up a big lie that that there is a “man in the sky” who controls everything and rewards people who follow his rules but punishes those who don’t.
THE INVENTION OF LYING is ultimately unconvincing and abhorrently irreverent. Though it contains some original humor and interesting insights into what constitutes truth and what constitutes a lie, the acting is nothing remarkable and most of the humor relies on sex. There are no consequences for Mark’s lies, and he continues to be rewarded for his immoral behavior. Thus, the line between truth and lies is left morally ambiguous and unbalanced. The biggest concern is the movie’s humanist worldview that mocks God, faith, Jesus Christ, Moses, and morality.