I may have mentioned in the past that I’m a big fan of Ricky Gervais. I saw his “Office” before it came to America, and still consider it the “real” one. And I found “Ghost Town” a breath of comedic fresh air. So I came to “The Invention of Lying” ready and willing to like it. Alas, I couldn’t.
The premise, as may be obvious from the title, is that Gervais lives in a world full of people incapable of lying, until he suddenly discovers that he has the capacity to verbalize a fabrication. Naturally, everyone around him believes him, and he quickly becomes the most powerful man in the world.
Sure, it’s a ridiculous premise, but not necessarily a bad one. It has potential. Sadly, “Lying” executes this premise with all the cleverness and insight of a bowl of vegetable soup. The people in this world not only can’t lie, they can’t seem to keep their mouths shut, or manage an iota of depth, charm, charisma, or compassion for each other. They don’t tell the truth because they’re honest; they tell the truth because they’re idiots. There’s a difference.
“The Invention of Lying” ventures into ostensibly (but not really) controversial territory when Gervais accidentally invents religion, in an attempt to comfort his dying mother. Roger Ebert says the movie “slips in the implication that religion is possibly only in a world that has the ability to lie.” But I think that is just wide of the point, which is that religion is only possible in a world filled with gullible idiots. And I could spend a lot of energy explaining why that’s not true, but honestly, if you’re prone to believe you’re surrounded by idiots, why would you bother to listen to what I have to say?