Tonight we went to the movie The Invention of Lying. I hadn't really read any reviews, but had the vague notion that it would be a cute romantic comedy. And it was... sort of.
(Spoiler alert -- You might not want to read further if you are planning on seeing the film. On the other hand, if I were you I'd choose to spend my money on some other movie, so you might want to read on anyway.)
Ricky Gervais plays Mark Bellison, a schlumpy guy with a crush on his best friend's cousin, Anna (played by Jennifer Garner). They live in this parallel world in which no one has ever told a lie, and the level of honesty can be quite funny. One day something snaps in Mark's brain and he blurts out a whopper. As one might expect, the lies mount and things begin to spin out of control.
The premise is promising, and there is a wonderful supporting cast including Tina Fey, Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Lowe, Jason Bateman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. However, for me, the movie fell short of its potential. In fact, some parts down right bugged me.
For example, just because people can only tell the truth shouldn't mean they have to blurt out what they are thinking at every moment. Is there no place for manners or being considerate of others' feelings in that parallel world? Further, is there also no room for imagination there? How dreary is that?!
The thing that bugged me most was the film turning into a satire about organized religion. Don't get me wrong -- I think poking fun of organized religion can be a very good thing. But the movie begins to just feel mean-spirited, insinuating that religion and truth are mutually exclusive and dismissing people of faith as ignorant. I don't presume to know the Truth, but I don't think Gervais should be so arrogant as to presume he does either.