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"THE INVENTION OF LYING"
(2009) (Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Mild Heavy None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Heavy Heavy Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: In a world where no form of lying exists, be that fibs, flattery or even fiction, a recently fired screenwriter unexpectedly develops the ability to lie and uses that to his advantage, but must then deal with the repercussions of everyone else accepting what he says at face value.
PLOT:
Screenwriter Mark Bellison (RICKY GERVAIS) lives in a world where no one lies. That's not a conscious decision, it's just that lying in any form, be that fibs, deceit, flattery or even fiction, simply doesn't exist. As a result, Mark's work for Lecture Films is penning factual scripts about historical events -- his covering the 14th century -- where the resultant movie simply features a person reading the script on camera.

Yet, his boss, Anthony (JEFFREY TAMBOR), isn't happy with his work, his personal assistant, Shelley (TINA FEY), hates working for him, and his work rival, Brad Kessler (ROB LOWE), thinks little of him. And since no lies exist, they simply state their feelings about him without any sort of social filters. It short, it's a brutally honest world.

The same holds true for Mark's personal life, when his best friend, Greg (LOUIS C.K.), sets him up on a date with Anna McDoogles (JENNIFER GARNER), but she immediately informs him that he's not anywhere near her type and no future together is possible since she wouldn't want fat kids with snub noses.

Things then go from bad to worse when Anthony fires Mark and his landlord gives him one day before evicting him. Desperate, Mark goes to the bank to withdraw what little money he has, but then something interesting occurs. With the bank's computer system down and unable to indicate his balance, something snaps in Mark's brain and he suddenly has the ability to lie.

Since everyone believes everything that's said at face value, Mark gets enough money to pay off his rent, and decides he can use his power not only to impress Anna, but also stop his neighbor, Frank (JONAH HILL), from having suicidal thoughts, and also help his ailing mother, Martha (FIONNULA FLANAGAN), die with the belief that there's an afterlife.

When others overhear that, Mark ends up becoming something of a prophet, making up a story about a "man in the sky" who controls everything, including choosing where one goes after death. From that point on, Mark must deal with the repercussions of his lies about that as well as his desire to win over Anna despite her honest if callous objections to his genetic makeup.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of Gervais, anyone else in the cast, or fantastical, high concept comedies, they might be interested.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For language including some sexual material and a drug reference.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RICKY GERVAIS plays an unassuming screenwriter of historical non-fiction who lives in a world where no one lies, and he doesn't get much respect from others, be that at work, or when he goes on a blind date with Anna. When he's fired, something pops in his head and he develops the ability to lie and then uses that to his advantage, both on a career and personal level. He also helps others by telling "good lies" that make them feel better, but his lie that essentially creates religion has unexpected repercussions for him. He drinks on various occasions and uses some profanity.
  • JENNIFER GARNER plays a pretty executive who goes on a blind date with him, but is brutally honest that he's not her type, especially since she wouldn't want his genetic makeup in her kids. She starts to be conflicted about that, however, as she otherwise ends up enjoying his company. She also drinks and admits to pleasuring herself before their first date.
  • LOUIS C.K. plays Mark's best friend who fixes him up on a date with Anna when not otherwise living like a slob and drinking a lot, including some drunken driving.
  • JONAH HILL plays Mark's suicidal neighbor who doesn't have the courage to complete his death wish, but is constantly researching new ways to kill himself. He drinks some.
  • FIONNULA FLANAGAN plays Mark's mom who's in a nursing home and is near death, afraid of what's going to happen after she dies.
  • ROB LOWE plays Mark's handsome, egotistical and conceited rival at work who's always putting him down.
  • JEFFREY TAMBOR plays Mark's boss at work who doesn't like confrontation, but feels he must fire him for his boring writing work.
  • TINA FEY plays Mark's personal assistant who doesn't like and can't stand working for him.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this comedy that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "f" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Sexually related dialogue is present, with off-screen female masturbation occurring (no sounds) and a woman goes off to a motel to have sex with the protagonist (believing his lie that it must be done to save the world), but he doesn't go through with that (which was really just a test of his lying power).

    Violence consists of a scene where a cop briefly gets physical with a drunk driver. Drinking occurs in various scenes, with intoxication in several, including some drunken driving, while a drug related comment is made and smoking related content is briefly present. Tense family material (including death of a parent of an adult child) occurs, while crude humor is present, as is behavior that some kids might want to imitate. Various bad attitudes are present, and some viewers might not like the film's overall view of religion.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's some handheld camera footage from time to time, but nothing too bad.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Mark orders a beer and Anna a margarita on their date, with her saying she'll probably have three more before the end of the night. Moments later, she mentions enjoying spending money on various things, including drinking. When the waiter brings their drinks, he admits that he had a sip of her margarita. Later, she states that she won't know how she really feels about their date until she's a little less drunk.
  • Mark receives an email message from Anna where she states (among other things) that she woke up sober (from their night of drinking).
  • We see a beer brand advertised in a bar window while Mark and Greg drink beer inside. Mark leaves for a bit and then rejoins his friend, and we see shot glasses by them. When they leave, Greg drives while intoxicated, and they're pulled over by a cop who makes Greg blow into a breathalyzer (but Mark lies that his friend isn't drunk and the cop believes him). Greg later vomits from too much drinking.
  • During the above, the cop says they can't afford his bribe level that he says pays for his expensive cocaine habit.
  • While in a motel room to have sex with a stranger (which doesn't ultimately occur), Mark asks if she wants a drink and then complains about the expensive beer from the selection in the room.
  • Miscellaneous people drink in a casino where Mark orders two beers (for him and Greg).
  • Mark and Frank have beer, and we see empty bottles by them.
  • Mark and Anna celebrate with champagne.
  • Greg arrives with pizza and beer, and we later see him and Anna having pizza, with beer by them, while Mark is in another room with a beer by him.
  • Some miscellaneous people are seen drinking in a bar.
  • Mark, Anna and Greg have champagne in a limo.
  • Mark and Anna have champagne in another scene.
  • Mark has a beer and we see some empty bottles by him.
  • Brad returns a bottle of wine at a restaurant, stating he's doing so to look important, and then he and Anna have wine from another bottle.
  • We see a homeless guy on the street drinking from a bottle in a brown paper bag.
  • Mark, Greg and Frank have beer, and we see empties by them as well as bottles of liquor. Frank states that he's going to live out the rest of his life drinking and watching TV, adding that the more he drinks, the faster he'll die (and thus make it to the afterlife).
  • We see a beer bottle on Mark's bedside dresser or table.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Among truths being told by miscellaneous people, one notes that she just took a big "dump."
  • Frank states he was up all night throwing up painkillers as he was afraid to take enough to kill himself (played lightly on the part of the film).
  • We briefly see an internal view of Mark's brain (as he gains the ability to lie).
  • While drunk driving, Greg states he thinks he's going to "puke." Later, and with Mark driving, he does just that (we hear but don't see the actual act). Even later, Greg states that a night at the casino was the most amazing of his life, with Mark stating how much better if would have been if he (Greg) didn't smell of vomit.
  • Mark states that in the Heaven like afterlife, ice cream is free and in any flavor anyone can imagine, with one woman being disgusted by saying she just thought of chocolate sauce and diarrhea.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • All of the following comments and behavior arise from characters being unable to lie and thus having no social filters to temper their blunt views of others (and thus most is played for comedy).
  • Among truths being told by miscellaneous people, one notes that another's unseen baby is as ugly as a rat.
  • Anna dismisses Mark as husband material based solely on his looks and not wanting her future kids to inherit any genetic material from him.
  • Some viewers might not like the film's view of overall religion, basically stating it's a lie, stemming from Mark making up stories, first about a Heaven like place (to soothe his mother on her death bed), and then a satirical bit about the Ten Commandments (with pizza boxes standing in for the stone tablets), where he mentions a "man in the sky" who controls everything. Fielding questions from the curious, Mark admits that the man in the sky is responsible for the good as well as the bad stuff that happens, with the latter infuriating the crowd, including one guy yelling out, "F*ck the man that lives in the sky!" while others say they must stop that "evil bastard." When Mark reminds them that the man in the sky is also responsible for good things, one man says he gets it, that the man in the sky is a good guy, but also "kind of a pr*ck." After that, we see various newspaper headlines about all of that, including that the man in the sky continues to give babies AIDS and that he murdered thousands in a natural disaster. Later, and after time has passed, Mark has let himself go and appears with long hair, a beard, and is wearing a robe (an obvious Jesus reference), with Anna saying he looks awful.
  • Some viewers might not like Frank's suicidal tendencies (being depressed, talking about researching different ways to kill himself, etc.) being played for light comedy.
  • Shelley admits to reading Mark's personal email and forwarding that to others.
  • Shelley tells Mark that she loathed nearly every minute of working for him, while Brad states that he's always hated Mark and even turned others against him, calling him a "little man-bitch." When it's said that Shelley called him an overweight homosexual in the past, she corrects that with "fat faggot," while Brad throws in "queer" to describe him when not calling him a "loser."
  • Brad is then constantly demeaning toward Mark for the rest of the film.
  • Mark lies to a bank teller about the amount of money in his account (so that he can pay off his landlord and avoid being evicted).
  • A cop pulls over Greg (who's drunk driving) and Mark, stating he's relieved they're not some black guys that would cause him to use violence without provocation. He then says they can't afford his bribe level that he says pays for his expensive cocaine habit. Mark then lies to the cop, thus preventing Greg from facing drunken driving charges.
  • Mark cheats (distracting others to move his bet in roulette) and lies (about hitting a slots jackpot) at a gambling establishment to make easy money.
  • Mark applies coffee to papers to make them look old and then tells an elaborate lie about them in order to get his job back and have a movie made from that lie.
  • Mark tells Anna that he didn't know his dad well, and that the latter was a robber (we see a brief flashback to him trying to break into a house but being caught by the owner).
  • Spotting an obese man sleeping in the park, Anna refers to him as a "sleeping ugly fatty." About Mark who's with her, Anna states it's a shame that being rich and famous doesn't change one's genetic material.
  • A caller on a radio program refers to "fat losers."
  • Mark refers to Brad as the "world's biggest douche bag."
  • At a restaurant, Brad orders a small salad for Anna, states he doesn't want her to get fat and reminds her that one day she'll lose her good looks. He then states a large part of him wants to "bag" her just to get back at Mark.
  • A guy with a similar build to Mark passes by him, stating, "Out of the way, fatty."
  • Anna's mom has a bad attitude about Mark.
  • Some bigger kids pick on a smaller, obese one, calling him a "fat loser" and pushing his ice cream cone into his face and then onto his shirt.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • When Greg won't get out of a car after being pulled over for drunk driving, the cop on the scene pulls him from the car and whacks him once, while reaching for his handgun when he mistakenly thinks Mark is going to do something.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: An incomplete "What the f*ck?" "F*ck the man that lives in the sky," "Sh*tty," "I was just masturbating," "Kind of a pr*ck," "You're a sperm donor," "You're a little man-bitch," "Fat faggot," "Queer," "Loser," "Shut up," "Cheers," "Two huge douche bags," "Well, you're stupid," "Evil bastard," "Sleeping ugly fatty," "Nerdy losers," "The world's biggest douche bag," "Screw it" and "Out of the way fatty."
  • The film might inspire kids to make up various sorts of lies and/or pretend that they can't or have no social filter to temper their blunt views of others.
  • Mark applies coffee to papers to make them look old.
  • Some bigger kids pick on a smaller, obese one, calling him a "fat loser" and pushing his ice cream cone into his face and then onto his shirt.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word (with another partial one), 2 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("bag"), 1 using male genitals ("pr*ck"), 3 slang terms for breasts ("boob") and 1 crap.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Some of the following comments and behavior arise from characters being unable to lie and thus having no social filters to temper their thoughts.
  • Mark arrives early for his date with Anna, and she states that he's early and that she was masturbating. That prompts him to state that makes him think about her vagina. After brief small talk, she states she's frustrated (from not having finished masturbating) and is going upstairs to finish getting ready, adding that she might realize she's still "horny" and will then try to finish masturbating without him hearing. She exits the room and he sits there for a moment before stating he thinks she started masturbating as it's too quiet. She then comes back down the steps and states she just masturbated, prompting him to say that makes him horny and he asks about sex, but she replies that she doesn't find him attractive.
  • While on their date, Anna talks to her mom on the phone about Mark, saying no, she won't be sleeping with him tonight and there won't even be a kiss.
  • A miscellaneous woman tells her husband or boyfriend that the part of sleeping with him sickens her.
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • When Mark asks Greg and a male bartender what they'd do if they could do anything, Greg states he would touch women's "boobs" and maybe have sex with them too (the bartender agrees on both counts). Later, two more uses of "boobs" occur.
  • To test the power of his lies, Mark confronts a pretty woman who initially blows him off until he states that the world will end if they don't have sex right now. Since everyone believes everything everyone says, the woman appears concerned and asks if they have time to get a hotel room or if they need to do it right there. We next see them in a motel room (where the outside sign indicates it's a place for near strangers to have intercourse), but he lets her off the hook by faking a call from NASA.
  • About roughing up Greg, a cop admits that it arouses him. Mark asks if that's sexually and the male cop says yes.
  • A waitress states she'd like to be a stripper, but isn't attractive enough.
  • Anna mentions that if she and Mark happened to get together and procreate, she'd want their kids to have her genetics as she doesn't want any fat kids with snub noses.
  • Hearing she has a date with Brad, Mark tells Anna not to sleep with him. She asks why not, adding that if she doesn't, he'll find another woman and sleep with her. Mark then tells her the rule is not to sleep with anyone unless you're married to them, but it's then that he learns her birthday card to him contained a coupon for "birthday sex" with her, prompting him to dejectedly state he "can't redeem sex." Brad then shows up, she tells him about Mark's rule, and Brad takes that coupon as he leaves with her.
  • Brad admits that a large part of him wants to "bag" Anna just to get back at Mark.
  • We see Mark shirtless in some really big boxers or shorts.
  • Mark informs Brad that the latter is really just a sperm donor.
  • SMOKING
  • A miscellaneous person is seen with an unlit pipe.
  • About Mark's tale of a Heaven like place, one man asks if you can smoke up there.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Mark tells Anna that he didn't know his dad well, and that the latter was a robber (we see a brief flashback to him trying to break into a house but being caught by the owner).
  • A doctor states that Martha has suffered all sorts of bad medical issues and will likely die today. Mark is then by her hospital bed where she's scared of dying and spending an eternity of nothingness, so he makes up a story about the afterlife (essentially a comedy version of Heaven but without naming it as such), crying as he does so, all to ease her pain and worries (she then dies).
  • Anna mentions her dad dying of a heart attack in the past and wonders if the man in the sky was responsible (Marks says yes).
  • Mark "talks" to his mom at her gravesite, admitting that he's the only one who knows she's just there in the ground and not in the afterlife he's been lying about.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Lying and how it can be bad or good (by helping others feel better about themselves or others).
  • What the world and personal interactions would be like if no one lied and no social filters were in place to temper blunt thoughts and beliefs.
  • Frank being suicidal.
  • The film's view of religion.
  • The comment that no one listens to what they really want.
  • VIOLENCE
  • When Greg won't get out of a car after being pulled over for drunk driving, the cop on the scene pulls him from the car and whacks him once, while reaching for his handgun when he mistakenly thinks Mark is going to do something.



  • Reviewed September 29, 2009 / Posted October 2, 2009

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