14 April 2012

The Invention of Lying - Movie Review

Plot Summary:
This film starts with a blind date between Mark (Ricky Gervais) and Anna (Jennifer Garner) who live in a world where everyone tells, not only the truth, but blurts out everything they are thinking:  "Yes, that dress makes you look fat" or "Your baby is so ugly, it's like a little rat."

No one has any imagination or creativity because there is nothing beyond what everyone can see. There are no white lies to save people from hurt feelings. Therefore everyone who is not beautiful and successful lives in a depressing stupor.

Mark loves Anna but she sees him as a loser who would produce fat, snub-nosed children. He is out of her league and, well, Brad (Rob Lowe) comes from a more attractive gene pool.

After being threatened with eviction, Mark suddenly breaks out of his stupor and tells a lie that makes everything better for him. And his lying makes others feel better, too. Everyone  believes everything he says because they can't imagine anyone telling something that "isn't."

Mark had been a screenwriter assigned to writing movies about the 13th century, a very boring historical period. Since there is little of interest to write about and he can't make the Black Plague exciting, he has been laid off. But, as soon as he realizes he can lie, he invents fiction, therefore his screenplays are so fantastic and interesting (albeit inane) that he becomes rich. Everyone believes his fictitious stories are the absolute truth.

Later, at his mother's death bed, Mark tells a lie to make her feel better about dying. He is overheard by the hospital staff and soon everyone believes he is a prophet.

I don't want to give more of the plot away, but the rest of the film involves the conflict of absolute truth and lying and the problems each can cause.

In several on-line reviews, people said the movie started out well and then went downhill, but for me, the opposite happened.  I thought most of the beginning was rather inane, but as it went on, I liked it more ---perhaps because it threw some light on why people believe the things they do.

I wouldn't call it a great movie, but I enjoyed the film. Netflix viewers gave it an average of 3 (out of 5) stars and IMDB readers rated it 6.4 (out of 10.)  Actually, the remarks ran the gamut: loved it, hated it, or so-so.

I liked that it was thought-provoking, yet (as you'll see below) simply "provoking" to some.  It had much to say about religion. As a non-believer, I found parts of it laugh-out-loud funny with lots of low-key humor in-between.

If that isn't enough to make an atheist want to see it, these reviews from Netflix might change your mind:
•"This movie is terrible, boring, not funny, and an attack on religion. If I didn't have to return it, I would put it in the shredder."

•"I thought that it was just terrible! The first 30 minutes or so were great but then they brought in religion and I found it very offensive and I didn't like it at all. It was very hard to finish the movie."

•"**SPOILER** This film is so disappointing. It completely makes fun of religion and seems to say that it is all made up. I felt like it was saying that if you are religious, you are gullible and stupid. I couldn't give it no stars so I rated it as low as I could."

•"The movie ended up being an insult and persecution of Christians everywhere. They mocked everything from God to the Ten Commandments. With the cast that this movie had it should have been really funny, but instead was a complete waste of time. It wasn't worth finishing and I would never recommend it to anyone. It I could give it less than a star I would."

I'm surprised any up-tight religious people got as far as the attack-on-religion parts. I would have thought they would have turned it off during the first five minutes when Anna blurts out that she had been masturbating when Mark rang her doorbell. (Some admitted they didn't watch more than a few minutes of it.)

Yes, it is an attack on religion, but it is fiction and it is a comedy.
Just a few more reviews from Netflix:
•"I loved this movie. It has a unique story line and makes you think outside the box. This is a true humanist movie."

•"Yeah it is anti-christian but it is hilarious...so get over it!!! This movie is great and I would suggest watching this movie."

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