Movie review: 'The Invention of Lying'

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

In a world where everyone is excruciatingly truthful, a chubby writer played by Ricky Gervais finds the ability to lie – with spectacular results.

The premise of "The Invention of Lying" might have sounded good in the telling, but the way it's been filmed, it's dreary and nonsensical. Set in an alternate universe where everybody is congenitally unable to tell a lie, it's about a chubby writer, Mark (Ricky Gervais), who suddenly discovers that he alone has the ability to tell a lie – and, of course, be believed by everybody. He rapidly amasses a small fortune and goes to work wooing the woman (Jennifer Garner) who previously turned him down. This is not, strictly speaking, a comedy, but that's not why I disliked it. Gervais, along with his co-writer/director Matthew Robinson, is vacuously ambitious. When Mark invents the concept of God and announces to the world the blissful life that awaits the good in the hereafter, the movie plunks headfirst into realms it can't possibly navigate. And why is the movie so visually drab? Jennifer Garner is made to look like a dishrag. If it's true that, as they say, "the camera never lies," then Garner may want to sue. Grade: D+ (Rated PG-13 for language, including some sexual material and a drug reference.)

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