The Invention of Lying – and the birth of all religion

The Invention of Lying (2009) by Matthew Robinson and Ricky Gervais

So, I went to a mystery movie preview last night (that’s when they don’t tell you the movie you are going to watch – it’s less expensive and fun if you do not happen to come across a film with an actor you abhorr, i.e. Tom Cruise). I did it the first time and I must say the concept actually scares me. Back in the days I dreaded going to the movies without knowing what I was going to watch, especially when I was meeting someone. I always wanted to make sure beforehand that I would not be coerced into something I didn’t want to watch. Consequently, going to a movie where I didn’t even know what I was going to watch while already having paid for the ticket is close to a heart attack for me. Just imagine what would happen if I came across a really bad movie.

But I got lucky (with the movie, you perverts!). I remember having seen the trailer once which did not make much of an impression, I guess. But the movie… I mean, just like the next person, I love an English accent and Ricky Gervais certainly has one. But it was not only him, it was the idea:

Imagine a world where nobody can lie – and then there is this average guy who suddenly can. And he tells people lies not only to gain something from it but sometmes just to make them a little happier… a good guy, mainly. Of course, his ability also makes him rich and popular. A fellow we all could be because we would do it for others as much as ourselves…

I loved that the main character sometimes stumbled, that he makes the right decisions when to lie and when not and that he learns when he errs. In the beginning, for example, he tries to lure a woman into bed by telling her the world was going to end if she didn’t have sex with him – and, of course, she believes him – but that was a mistake since she is so hysteric and focused on saving the world that he fakes a phone call with someone to tell him it isn’t necessary anymore – the world is once again save. I also loved that the woman was played by Stephanie March…

Speaking of the cast… we have Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, and Rob Lowe in the leads – and then some: Tina Fey (hilarious), Edward Norton, Jimmi Simpson (as representative of Coca Cola), Jason Bateman, and Philip Seymore Hoffman in small but wonderful roles.

It is interesting to note that before Mark (Gervais) starts lying there seems to be no religion whatsoever. Then he tells his mother about an afterworld while she is dying where everybody gets a mansion and meets all there friends and loved ones. As the nurses and doctor hear it, too, there is an uproar in the community and finally the whole world as Mark invents the “Man in the Sky” who talks to him only and told him about the afterlife. It is really wonderful to see how the people are willing to believe in a higher power that gives them mansions and want to condemn the same power for letting babies die of Aids. A woderfully thoughtful comment on religion.

The movie does not dwell too long on the newness of telling the truth in every situation – it is funny in the beginning but would have been tedious if it was the only thing the movie was about – but rather follows the plot early on. Of course, the plot is about boy meets girl (Jen Garner) and how he is supposed to get her when she wants the best compatible mate to have beautiful kids with, i.e. Rob Lowe. But it is charmingly done and of course, his love-interest comes around (though I think it a little insulting that women seem to only be able to make up their minds at the wedding, in front of all their loved ones… it’s been done often enough now, don’t u think?)

Okay, I liked this one. It’s a comedy that actually deserves to be called comedy.

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