Monday, October 26, 2009

The Invention of Lying (**1/2)

The Invention of Lying. 99 mins. PG-13. Written and Directed by Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson. Starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Louis C.K., and Jonah Hill.

Anyone who's seen the British version of The Office or Extras knows that Ricky Gervais is one seriously funny guy. And when he writes and directs his own material, you're usually in for something special. Such were my hopes with The Invention of Lying. Gervais hasn't had the best luck on American screens - Ghost Town was just alright and the Night at the Museum flicks are nothing to write home about. Turns out neither is his latest effort. Despite a clever premise (Gervais creates the first lie in a world where people only speak the truth) and a very promising (and funny) first half hour, The Invention of Lying soon loses its way, trading laughs for feel good moments and lame religious allegory. Gervais is at his best when he's misanthropic, awkward and sarcastic, and all of that is in rather short supply here. Not even Jennifer Garner as his unlikely love interest can save the movie. The Invention of Lying had the potential to be another Groundhog Day - what we get though is another Ghost Town. Gervais has a great big screen comedy in him still, but he has to stop courting the masses. When comedies try to please everyone, they usually end up pleasing no one.

- John


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