There’s a sporting chance that a good proportion of you aren’t going to like The Invention Of Lying. After all, a good degree of the reaction to the film holds true. It’s far from your conventional romantic comedy, for starters. It’s also a film with a sizeable tonal shift in the middle, and one where you can fairly easily see the join. Furthermore, in spite of the presence of some superb comedy talent in the cast – Jeffrey Tambor, Tina Fey, Louis CK among them – they’re kept fairly restrained for much of the film, tied to a script that, through absolutely necessity, has to keep things tight.
For me, though, as I’ve written before in our Most Underappreciated Films Of 2009 feature, I liked The Invention Of Lying a lot. I sat in a room with my better half who didn’t go for it at all, but at least we could sit there and have a discussion about it. Because whether you warm to the film or not, there’s a real feeling that someone’s tried to come up with something a bit different here.
Of course, at first you get the film that the trailer sold you. You get an anti-romantic comedy set in a world where the lie hasn’t been invented. More than that, though: people go round calmly telling other people the truth. Advertising slogans – with a tip of the hat to the underrated Dudley Moore comedy Crazy People – are utterly down the line. In short, there’s a calm world where as long as everyone conforms to the status quo of truth, everything works.
Until Gervais’ character has a thought. He’s on the receiving end of much of the honesty – and very funny it often is – and he one day tells the world’s first lie. From there, things snowball as people believe his lies without question, and it’s around about here that the film starts to turn in a more serious direction. For the clear subtext is religion, and it’s a brave move that the film takes. It’s not always a comfortable one. I can’t help thinking that the first half of The Invention Of Lying remains the tightest. But whether you agree with the message or not that Gervais is putting across, you’re undoubtedly getting more than you bargained for with the end result.
It’s far from a perfect film, and I’d still take Ghost Town ahead of it (but then Ghost Town is, to be fair, brilliant). Yet, it’s firmly recommended. It splits people a lot, but it splits them for good reason. And in a Hollywood where Big Momma’s House 3 has just been commissioned, I’m simply glad that someone’s still trying.
No commentary track here, but some diverting extras nonetheless. The corpsing track is very funny, showcasing the Gervais cackle at inappropriate moments to great effect. Also, among the excised sequences is a caveman introductory scene, narrated by Patrick Stewart, which Gervais calls the most expensive DVD extra in history.
You get a fun ‘making of ‘with Ricky Gervais, some additional scenes, four video podcasts with Ricky Gervais and co-director Matt Robinson (Gervais reading the local newspaper being our favourite) and an amusing Meet Karl Pilkington extra too.
It’s a solid pack of extras, even if a commentary track would have been very, very welcome.
The Film:The Disc: