Saturday, October 3, 2009

If You Have Time for a Good Movie...

...I recommend seeing "The Invention of Lying" starring Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner. I saw it last night, and I thought it was fantastic.

I am not an avid movie goer (if I'm at the movies it's generally an animated flick), but I enjoy the occasional chick flick or action movie now and then. But the premise of this movie caught my interest, and I had to find out what the writers (Ricky Gervais is one of the writers as well as a director) could do with it. I wasn't disappointed!

"The Invention of Lying" is set in a world - more specifically a fairly generic small town - where no one has discovered the ability to lie. Everyone tells the truth - waaaay more truth than even the most blunt person you know in real life is comfortable sharing! As a recovering people-pleaser, there were moments when it was almost excruciating hearing the truth, let alone imagining actually speaking it out loud as the characters always did. It makes for some unbelievably hilarious conversations, but as I sat in the theater, I couldn't shake the feeling that the world had turned a bit on its axis as the dialogue continued in such a socially awkward, matter-of-fact manner. It was so...intriguing and odd all at the same time.

Ricky Gervais plays the main character, Mark, who is a down on his luck "loser" (oh yeah, called that to his face in this world of honesty). He is fired from his screenwriting job (where they only write about actual past events, because there is no fiction) and is hopelessly attracted to Anna (played by Jennifer Garner). Anna is a beautiful, successful woman who discusses openly with Mark that they are not a suitable match because she is out of his league. Just when Mark thinks things can't get much worse, he discovers he has the ability to say things into being - in essence, he can lie. And his lies begin to turn his world and everyone else's upside down. In the end, Mark learns that lying isn't an easy fix and Anna discovers that the truth isn't always what it seems to be.

This movie does a magnificent job of balancing the limitless humor that abounds in a world where people always speak the truth with the ache that always facing reality can cause in people's lives. There are just enough laughs to sooth the raw nerves that are touched by so much truth telling. Of course, Hollywood uses the movie's premise to take a few pot shots at religion, but if you really know your Christian theology, you can get through that part with only a few hairs on the back of your neck standing up.

"The Invention of Lying" has a great cast. Although Ricky Gervais doesn't immediately come to mind when thinking about a successful leading man, he creates a character who is slightly bumbling, but truly endearing. He takes the plot twist of learning to lie, which could be played flippantly for easy laughs, and instead takes a deeper look at how a person might wrestle with such a life changing discovery. I am a huge Jennifer Garner fan, and she does a great job as Anna. While there are some moments of acting that caused flashbacks to "13 Going on 30", she also creates a real character in a world that seems ready to turn people into caricatures. She is brilliant in the scene when she comforts Mark after he loses his mother. The supporting cast of Jonah Hill, Rob Lowe, and Tina Fey is terrific, and I have to give high props to Jeffrey Tambor for his brief, but hilarious role as Mark's boss.

If you have an extra $10 and a few hours, check out this unique movie. You will laugh, cry (or at least tear up), and best yet - think.

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