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The Invention of Lying


Latest Home Video

Jan 19, 2010

MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



Ricky Gervais

Jennifer Garner


2009 Warner Brothers Pictures

Official Website >>

Still shot from the movie: The Invention of Lying.

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Overall C
Run Time100

Making the Grades

Honesty gets a bad rap in The Invention of Lying. It really has very little to do with telling the truth. Instead, it’s defined as a continuous battery of uncensored, nasty comments aimed at everyone else. There is no flattery, no fiction and no deceit in this world, as well as no regard for anyone’s feelings.

Apparently people have learned to live with the maliciousness. In fact, they seem to expect an onslaught of brutal observations about their weight, physical appearance, chances of success and social status. But they aren’t happy.

Among the most miserable is Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais). He has just lost his job at a film studio, realized his mother (Fionnula Flanagan) is about to die and been threatened with eviction from his apartment. Going to the bank to draw out the last of his funds, he is suddenly struck with the ability to lie. Since dishonesty doesn’t even have a name in the society where he lives, the bank teller (Ashlie Atkinson) immediately assumes the computer is wrong and hands to Mark the $800 he requested.

Though he doesn’t know what to call it, the unemployed screenwriter is giddy with his newfound power and begins a spree of fibbing (much of which is portrayed in a positive or comedic fashion) that takes advantage of his innocent fellow citizens.

Love is also absent in this town   a line of reasoning in the movie that suggests deceit is a big part of successful romantic encounters. People marry and procreate based on finding the best genetic pairing (or as this script also implies, as a means of destroying the happiness of others). Hence, if you are chubby, unsuccessful and snub-nosed like Mark and his friends (Jonah Hill and Louis C.K.), you are destined to be unlucky in love. However, that doesn’t stop Mark from being attracted to the beautiful Anna McDoogle (Jennifer Garner), even after she lets him know exactly how she feels about him on their first date.

The final subjects lumped together as lies by the film’s screenwriters, Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, are advertising and religion. In a portrayal that mocks the beliefs of the spiritual community, Mark manufactures what he considers to be his biggest and best mendacity ever. At the bedside of his dying mother, he attempts to relieve her fears about the unknown by "creating" an afterlife. The story spreads like wildfire through the streets and Mark takes on the role of prophet and spiritual leader, as well as consummate swindler.

The concept behind this one-joke comedy is brilliant, yet the execution and editing often feel clunky and contrived. Many of the supporting actors thrive in their roles, including Jennifer Garner as the guileless girlfriend and veteran actor Jeffrey Tambor who plays Mark’s boss. Even as the big man struggles to summon enough gumption to fire his floundering employee, honesty compels him to let Mark know of his upcoming dismissal. Gervais, on the other hand, reverts to the same bumbling, self-indulgent character he plays in Night at the Museum and Ghost Town.

Despite their efforts, the writers seem unable to manipulate the plot enough to make either brutal honesty or unabashed lying look totally attractive. Rather, they sidestep the issue and choose instead to invent a world where restraint is considered dishonest, where faith is deemed to be a fabrication and where one man prospers at the expense of everyone else—including the woman he loves.


Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Invention of Lying.

Why do the screenwriters appear to equate tact or diplomacy with dishonesty? Does complete honesty mean expressing every thought that comes into a person’s head, even if it is unkind? Do you consider social niceties to be lies?

What does the Coke ad in this film have to say about total truth in advertising? How might marketing campaigns be different if they had to be completely forthright? Would you want to live in a world where fiction (either in books or movies) was not allowed?

Once Mark is able to lie, he can see beyond the outward appearance of people and discover their inner strengths. Does that ability have anything to do with honesty? Or is it more of a perception or sensitivity issue?

News & Views About The Invention of Lying:

Canadian Movie Ratings

PG Coarse Language.
AB PG Language May Offend, Not Recommended For Young Children.
MB PG Mature Theme.
ON PG Language May Offend.

Canadian Home Video Rating: PG

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of The Invention of Lying...

Release Date: 19 January 2010

The Invention of Lying on DVD comes with:

- Additional Footage

- Behind The Scenes Featurette

The Invention of Lying on Blu-Ray is presented in widescreen with:

- Additional Footage

- Behind The Scenes Featurette

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ED says: Oct. 03, 2009

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!  The references you make that this movie “...mocks the beliefs of the spiritual community…”, buried in the 6th paragraph of your review, doesn’t even begin to describe how ANTI-Christian and offensive this movie is.  If you were really looking out for parents, you would be screaming this from the top of the story.  This movie is an attack on ANY religion and spiritual belief.  It only masquerades as a comedy (which it doesn’t even come close at that).

Doug says: Oct. 09, 2009

This movie is blatantly offensive to those who believe in God.  It seems it’s purpose is to make a statement promoting the producer’s atheist agenda. It takes what could have been a witty premise and ruins it with leftist propaganda.  Very sad that so many in the entertainment world attempt to relieve their own searing conscious by attempting to tear down the faith of others.

Stephen says: Dec. 28, 2009

This ‘Comedy’ is not really very funny at all.  There are a couple of funny moments, but these do not make this a comedy.  I agree with the previous comments that this movie is a soapbox for the writers and directors to mock anyone of faith.

Eileen K. says: Sep. 17, 2010

I came away from this movie with my mouth hanging open, absolutely appalled that anyone could be so blatant in their mockery of religion, whitewashed under the cover of a “comedy” about lying.  This trash is offensive from the beginning with its overt sexual references, and just gets worse from there.  I used to like Ricky Gervais, who wrote this garbage, but I will NEVER watch another of his movies again.

Teen Parent says: Dec. 25, 2012

Great movie for non-religious families, exposing human gullibility with a sense of humor. Not recommended for people who can’t handle the faintest hint that deities may not exist, or who don’t want their kids to find out that it’s not only Santa who is imaginary. The movie is only funny if you are open-minded.  Beware the excessive sex talks, though—definitely not for kids under 15.

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