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The Invention of Lying – Rating: C

Submitted by on October 8, 2009 – 1:10 PMNo Comment
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In this classic case of nice-guy-finishes-first, The Invention of Lying tells the tale of lovable loser Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) whose personal and professional life can only be described as pathetic. He lives in a world where lying does not exist, and this no-fib zone is particularly harsh on an unattractive, unsuccessful men like Mark. The film opens with Mark clumsily attempting to woo the lovely Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner) on the pair’s first date. After an awkward phone convo with her mother and a few too many margaritas, Anna ends the date with a quick peck on the cheek and a slam of the door. She promises Mark she will call tomorrow if she still likes him when she is sober. (Ouch!)  Things only get worse when Mark’s boss fires from his job as a screenwriter because his films about the black plague are too depressing. Imagine that.

Depressed about his depressing films and equally depressing situation, Mark returns home only to discover that he is being evicted. He goes to the bank to withdraw the last of his funds, and it suddenly comes to him: the world’s first lie! Mark nervously informs the teller he has $800 in his account, even though he knows there is only $300. In a move that could only happen in the movies, the woman behind the counter cheerfully hands over the excess cash and Mark walks out of the bank a new man. He becomes the Santa Claus of deception, spreading good cheer with white lies. He even convinces his suicidal neighbor to stay alive. Emboldened by his new power, he tells Anna that he has changed and she reluctantly accepts his invitation to another date.

Disaster strikes again when Mark’s mother suffers a heart attack during his and Anna’s second rendezvous. He rushes to the hospital only to find his mother terrified of her impending death and the “eternal nothingness” that follows. To console her he tells her that after death you go to a beautiful place in the sky with all of the people you love. Relieved, she dies with Mark at her bedside and a smile on her face. But his lie backfires when others find out his life-after-death discovery. Hordes of people and a frenzy of  reporters arrive at his doorstep demanding him to announce what he knows about the afterlife. He eventually devises ten rules about a heaven and a god-like man in the sky. The people believe his pseudo-religious revelations, and he is instantly transformed into a famous, messianic figure. But his newfound fame and fortune are not enough and he lacks the one thing he wants: Anna. In the end he wins her over with the one thing he had all along: his unassuming temperament and his sincere love for her.

Unfortunately, most of the film’s funniest moments happened in the trailer. Translated onto the actual screen, the jokes seemed much like the story’s protagonist: inept and ill timed. While the no-lying premise was initially intriguing, it eventually lost its fun-factor and seemed overplayed by the story’s end. And while it was easy to empathize with Gervais’ character, Garner’s child-like persona was too reminiscent of her roles in other films. Ultimately, it was an interesting idea brought down by awkward religious overtones and a conventional ugly guy-gets hot girl plotline.

Beer Pairing: Get inspired by the romance in this film with a bottle of Two Hearted Ale by Bell’s Brewery. Two Hearted AleThis aromatic india pale ale is full of hops and has a rewarding mix of citrus and pine flavors.

Style: American IPA
Original Gravity: 1.064
Alcohol by Volume: 7.0%