The premise is simple: In a world where everyone tells the truth one man (Gervais) discovers the ability to lie. Some of the turns the script takes are expected, Mark Bellison (Gervais) uses his new ability for personal and professional gain, and some are less so such as using little white lies to improve the lives of those around him by giving them hope about life, and what comes after. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The film’s major achievement is creating a world of truth which is constantly giving us funny moments. Aside from the most inappropriate name for a retirement community ever, the film also includes the funniest (and most truthful) Pepsi advertisement I’ve ever seen. Although the story itself is fine, it’s in these small touches the film ultimately won me over.
The film isn’t perfect. The people of this world are truthful, but at times they are also more forthcoming with much more information than is required, truthful or not. Yes they should be truthful, but should they be compelled to share every harsh truth that comes to mind?
Tina Fey tells Mark what she’s always thought of him now that he’s losing his job, Jonah Hill is a pathetically truthful suicidal neighbor, and Rob Lowe once again oozes brutally honest smarmy. Funny? Sometimes, but though these moments provide laughs they are also responsible for a good share of the film’s groan worthy moments.
The ability to lie can be a wonderful, yet terrible thing. Mark’s new ability, and the fame he is able to orchestrate (from it by “finding” a secret historical document about aliens and space ninjas landing on the planet in the 14th Century) give him a chance at winning the girl of his dreams (Jennifer Garner), but also comes with unexpected consequences.
And it’s these unexpected consequences that lead to the film’s second act which I wouldn’t dare spoil here. All I’ll say is a noble attempt to comfort his mother on her deathbed leads to Mark Bellison becoming the most famous man on the planet (and provides several big laughs).
With all the films opening today it might be hard for moviegoers to choose which one to see. Let me say The Invention of Lying made me laugh the most, and although I’d recommend you see all four films hitting theaters today, this would be my first choice. Trust me. I won’t lie to you.