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Invention of Lying, The


Stars: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Fionnula Flanagan, Louis CK, Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tina Fey

Director: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson

This new comedy from Gervais has a great idea, positing a world where no one tells anything but the truth. What often sounds acutely embarrassing to us, of course, just comes naturally to the folks here.

This is fun for about 10 minutes, but the film never really makes the most of the idea, limping along to an inevitable romantic conclusion.

Gervais himself, however, is as toothily engaging as ever as Mark, a loser screenwriter at a company that produces dull historical overviews, who is about to get the sack, and be evicted from his flat, in that order.

Desperate to raise the $800 he needs for his rent, Mark goes to the bank to get the few dollars he has left, then takes advantage of a computer glitch to tell the cashier he wants to withdraw $800 he has in his account, thus inventing the world's first porky. It works.

Soon, Mark is back at work as a successful writer, and able to woo the girl of his dreams (Garner), even if she still thinks that slimy co-worker Brad (Lowe) is a better genetic choice.

But when Mark persuades his dying mother (Flanagan) that she isn't doomed to eternal nothingness, but can look forward to a mansion with all her friends, presided over by the Man in the Sky, things rapidly escalate out of Mark's control.

Gervais continues to just miss the mark with his film comedies, but there are sufficient chuckles in this one for us to hope he keeps trying.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
99 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 27 Sep 2009