Friday, January 15, 2010

Soapbox Comedy

The Invention of Lying (Warners)
Ricky Gervais and co-writer/co-director Matthew Robinson have made a pleasant if far from earthshaking comedy about an alternate world in which everyone tells the truth without sugar-coating. This has amusing consequences early when embarrassing thoughts are spoken aloud: when Gervais shows up to take Jennifer Garner out to dinner, she tells him that she hasn’t finished masturbating yet, then goes upstairs to do so. Soon, the one-joke script wears thin, and Gervais and Robinson get desperate. Once the hero starts fibbing at will—he talks his way back into his job, extra money from his bank and Garner’s pants—he invents God which, in this context, makes no sense. Is this also a world with no literature, philosophy, psychology, painting, music, or the arts of any kind? So many artists have used religious themes over the centuries, but obviously not in this world. Ultimately, The Invention of Lying—despite some laughs and good cameos by Tina Fey, Ed Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jason Bateman—exists in a vacuum. The Blu-ray faithfully renders an undistinguished visual presentation (Gervais and Robinson are more inclined to trust the word than the image), while the extras include meager footage in lieu of a commentary or longer making-of featurette that might better explain the makers’ intentions.
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