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The Invention of Lying (2009)

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A comedy set in a world where no one has ever lied, until a writer seizes the opportunity for personal gain.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ricky Gervais ... Mark Bellison
Jennifer Garner ... Anna McDoogles
Jonah Hill ... Frank
Louis C.K. ... Greg
Jeffrey Tambor ... Anthony
Fionnula Flanagan ... Martha Bellison
Rob Lowe ... Brad Kessler
Tina Fey ... Shelley
Donna Sorbello Donna Sorbello ... Anna's Mother
Stephanie March ... Blonde
Ruben Santiago-Hudson ... Landlord
John Hodgman ... Wedding Overseer
Nate Corddry ... News Reporter
Jimmi Simpson ... Bob
Martin Starr ... Waiter #1
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Storyline

It's a world where everyone tells the truth - and just about anything they're thinking. Mark Bellison is a screenwriter, about to be fired. He's short and chunky with a flat nose - a genetic setup that means he won't get to first base with Anna, the woman he loves. At a bank, on the spur of the moment he blurts out a fib, with eye-popping results. Then, when his mother's on her deathbed, frightened of the eternal void awaiting her, Mark invents fiction. The hospital staff overhear his description of Heaven, believe every word, and tell others. Soon Mark is a prophet, his first inventive screenplay makes him rich, and he's basically a good guy. But will that be enough for Anna? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In a world where everyone can only tell the truth... ...this guy can lie. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language including some sexual material and a drug reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 October 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

This Side of the Truth See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,027,472, 4 October 2009

Gross USA:

$18,439,082
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's credits are set in the Windsor typeface, used notably in the films of Woody Allen. See more »

Goofs

Although lying does not exist, it is obvious that crime does, given Mark's father's depicted history as being a burglar. The policeman is able to commit and continue committing the act of taking a bribe, so long as he is not questioned about whether or not he is doing so by a superior or a fellow officer, as then and only then he would be in a position where he would have to tell the truth. See more »

Quotes

Anna McDoogles: [with an epiphany] I've finally decided what I want!
Mark Bellison: [expecting the worst] And what is that?
Anna McDoogles: I want short fat kids with snub noses!
Mark Bellison: I'm your man.
[Mark smiles; they kiss]
See more »


Soundtracks

Dreamer
(1974) (uncredited)
Written by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson
Performed by Supertramp
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Oh dear! A classic case of a good concept in search of a good story
1 October 2009 | by motta80-2See all my reviews

Oh dear! I had high hopes for this Ricky Gervais comedy. He's never proved himself on film, but here he was writing, directing, producing. He had come up with a great, funny concept. This was his chance to shine.

Unfortunately the light at the end of this tunnel is the train coming to run us down.

Like so many "high concept" comedies this is a concept in desperate, futile search of a plot... and some funnier lines.

It's no disaster. There are some funny bits. It starts well (or at least does after a hideously misguided voice-over explanation of the basic plot set-up) but the joke that everyone not only can't lie (lying doesn't exist you see, hence the title - obvious, right? So why the voice over explanation Ricky, why, oh, why!) but volunteers the truth, no matter how harsh, at every occasion quickly wears thin. He gets about 20 minutes out of it and some people handle it better than others. Curiously it is often the straight actors (like Jennifer Garner) that play it better and the comedians (like Tina Fey) who sound too much like they are delivering calculated lines to get a laugh - and therefore don't. I love Fey but every line of hers fell flat for me here while Garner sold the hell out of it. Perhaps it's the less comedic actors lose themselves more in the character and world and aren't trying for the gag, the laugh, just trusting in the script, etc. I don't know but it's noticeable time and again here.

A risky (for some American audiences) plot element involving his inadvertent creation of religion and the spiralling outcome of this is also amusing, but again it's funnier as an idea than in execution. Out-staying its welcome.

There are also some dynamite cameos, including two that had my laughing simply by their presence. A bar tender that joins Gervais and the excellent Louis C.K. in a scene is both funny by presence and in his dynamite delivery. I'm not going to say who plays it because if you're going to watch the film it was one of the highlights for me.

As was another cameo by a usually fairly serious actor (although he has shown a comedic side on occasion) as a traffic cop. Again just his presence is funny from the moment he walks on screen and the voice (cause you won't instantly recognise him) gives him away.

A scene with two Extras regulars is fun but feels out of place in the film, almost playing like an afterthought put in for faithful fans.

Amongst the other leads Garner triumphs, giving it her all and Louis C.K. is very funny, but Jonah Hill is underused and never hits the high notes he achieved in Funny People, while Tina Fey doesn't bring it (and i so wanted her to) and Rob Lowe really fails in an update of his Wayne's World character.

But ultimately this descends into sentiment and lacks resolve or real drama. It often feels like a string of stand-up one-liners extended into plot devices (as there is no lying movies are a guy -nice touch cameo from Christopher Guest as one such - reading a book on camera) that work once but then are repeated over and over, beating the gag into submission. Ideas like the use of lying to make people feel better are similarly used once to affecting and comedic effect but then overplayed.

And before you know it you're bogged down in a film about perception of others and looking beyond the surface that could have been reached by any number of devices, making the lying thing irrelevant!

Like Bruce Almighty the concept can only get the film so far before you notice you have almost no interest in the characters, there is no discernible plot and we're going to descend into sentimentality without passing through palpable drama or achieving any resolve.

Disappointing is the only appropriate word.


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