The invention of lying

“The Invention of Lying,” featuring scenes filmed at the Andover Inn, has finally reached theaters. The movie begins in a world in which everyone must tell the truth. Fortunately, that’s not the case in our world; otherwise, I would just say that this movie was bad and go about my business. “The Invention of Lying,” minus the vulgar language and sexual innuendo, could easily be mistaken for a mid-morning “Teletubbies” episode stressing the importance of truthfulness and honesty. The movie follows Mark Bellison, played by Ricky Gervais, also the director of the movie and the writer/creator of the British version of The Office, “a snub-nosed, fat man,” as he fails to adjust a blunt world where people say everything as it is. Simply put, people in Mark’s world have no ability to lie, consider everything they hear as concrete and seem to have no issue with people stating the brutal truth. The contrast between our ambiguous lives and Mark’s world of rigid truth is the source of many bright moments in the film. Nearly all the comedic episodes are rooted in this disparity, but the jokes gradually grow tiresome. As the plot progresses, Mark discovers that he has the ability to tell the world’s first lie. Through this newly found power he creates a desired life of fame and riches, but he is still unable to win the girl of his dreams, Anna (Jennifer Garner). As one lie builds on another, the movie spirals out of control in a torrent of false statements. At one point, Mark is recognized as a prophet of the afterlife and proclaims that everyone gets a mansion after death, only if the “Man in the Sky” is pleased with them. This is a satirical yet clever running joke on religion as the people of Mark’s world take his fictitious prophecy as an unchallenged law. When Anna gets engaged to Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe), Mark realizes that this world has no room for individuality or depth. A “desirable genetic match” for her, Brad is handsome, ever arrogant, successful and reeking of self-importance – everything our do-good Mark is not. Fortunately, throughout the movie are countless cameo appearances that draw you back to the screen. This credible cast of cameos includes Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, That PC Guy from the Mac Ads (also known as John Hodgman) and many others. Their role in the film is disappointing, given how ridiculously funny these accomplished actors would be on a Friday night feature on “Oh! Oxygen.” The movie is littered with themes that can be grasped without much thought, interspersed with brief moments of comic relief. This movie tries to be funny, but it fails quite often. It constantly pulls the audience away from the cheery humor into a universe in which depressing and dramatic events rule the life of our protagonist. The story is not cohesive and seems to skip to a concise conclusion. Leaving the theatre, one gets that stunned feeling synonymous with what we all feel after 30 minutes of “Teletubbies” in onesie pajamas, devouring pudding. Grade: 2-