Plot: What’s it about?
I can say with almost absolute certainty that Ricky Gervais is one of the funniest men on the face of the planet. Yes, really. If you missed him in the short-lived UK version of “The Office” then by all means, do yourself a favor and rent it on DVD or better yet buy it and be entertained whenever you like. And for those that don’t know, it is the show that inspired the much more commercial US version of the show by the same name. Gervais is a comic whose dry British humor is something that just sits well with me and the more things I see him in; I’m convinced he continues to get funnier. I recently caught him in a Showtime special where he kept me in stitches for nearly an hour. And can anyone forget him last year when he was presenting an award for the Golden Globes and walked out with a glass of beer? He’s hosting them in 2010 so evidently it wasn’t too big of a deal. Still, there aren’t too many people who have made me laugh as much as Gervais and his new movie is no exception.
“The Invention of Lying” is a novel concept and one that can (and has) aroused some controversy, we’ll get to that a bit later. Gervais plays Mark Bellison, a screenwriter for a movie studio whose assigned century has “The Black Plague”. You see, in a world without lies there’s no ability for fiction and everyone speaks what’s on their mind. Mark doesn’t really like his job and he’s on the verge of being fired. His boss (Jeffrey Tambor) tells him this on a daily basis and that he’s also too afraid to fire him. Eventually it does happen and Mark is on the verge of being evicted from his apartment. He goes to the bank to withdraw his savings (which are $300) and asks for $800 instead. The computers come back online and in a world without lies, it must have been the computer that made the mistake, right? The ability to tell a lie opens a door for Mark, most importantly with the woman he’s been dating, Anna (Jennifer Garner). Anna likes him but flat out tells him that she doesn’t want “pudgy children with short noses.” Mark also uses his newfound ability to write a whopping screenplay and amidst the chaos also alludes to a “man in the sky”. This is the basis for the real-life controversy as the film questions the existence of a higher power as that of a lie.
All religious implications aside, “The Invention of Lying” is a cute and clever little film that actually makes one think. Very few films do that. I’m not going to start a holy war and I realize that this movie is a work of fiction and nothing more. It seems that “the church” is always looking for a reason to make a statement of some sort and that’s fine, but I think they have to look at film as an expression of art and not a handbook on how to live your life. The film shows us that even in a world without the ability to lie, it doesn’t mean that there’s no stress or absence of problems because the fact of the matter is ? there is. Still, Gervaise manages to play his character in such a matter of fact manner that it’s hard not to envision him as the everyman. If you can manage to put all your preconceived notions on the backburner and just enjoy something for what it’s worth then “The Invention of Lying” is for you, my friend.
Video: How does it look?
A new to Blu-ray movie will almost always look great and “The Invention of Lying” is no exception in that department. The 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer is nothing short of perfection, though I did notice that the entire transfer seems to be on the lighter side. Fleshtones look average, with good color depth and the detail is very noticeable as well. The contrast is a bit on the dodgy side, but not so much that it interferes with the viewing experience. Black levels are right on target and save for these few minor blemishes, it’s a good-looking transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is on par with that of most comedies and truth be told (pardon the pun), I really can’t remember anything that stood out as being too terribly memorable. The main draw of this film is dialogue and it does sound nice, very well-balanced and centered. The front stage handles most, if not all, of the sound and I only caught the surrounds chiming on the rarest of occasions. Take it for what it’s worth, but I hardly doubt anyone will complain about how this uncompressed audio sounds.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“The Invention of Lying” contains a variety of supplements starting out with a prequel of sorts entitled “The Dawn of Lying”. In this, members of the cast are dressed up like cavemen and we see Gervais’ character mocked until he decides to lie about killing a dinosaur. To accompany this, there’s also a documentary entitled “Meet Karl Pilkington” in which Karl plays an extra in said prequel. We see his journey to the states, his makeup and constant jabbing by friend Ricky Gervais. Odd, yet interesting. There’s the obligatory “Honest” Making of featurette in which the cast tells us how lucky they were to work with a genius such as Gervais, who co-wrote and co-directed the film. We’re also treated to some podcasts, a few extended scenes and some outtakes. I’m usually not a fan out outtakes, but it really is pretty funny to hear Gervais laugh. The second disc contains a digital copy of the film.