The Invention of Lying  

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"Like Luke Wilson in Idiocracy, a film The Invention Of Lying sometimes resembles, Gervais’ character goes from zero to prophet/seer/sage because he possesses something no one else does. In Idiocracy, that’s intelligence. Here, it’s the ability to lie. " --Nathan Rabin, 2010

"Before discussing the theology of this film, I'd like to point out that although the film is extremely blasphemous, it is undeniably funny at times."--Cross-Examined Films: Engaging the Church with Modern Art (2017) by Matthew King

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The Invention of Lying is a 2009 American fantasy romantic comedy film written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson (in their directorial debuts). The film stars Gervais as the first human with the ability to lie in a world where people can only tell the truth. The supporting cast features Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Rob Lowe, and Tina Fey. The film was released in the United States on October 2, 2009.



The film is set in an alternative reality in which lying does not exist. As a consequence of this premise, religion does not exist.

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is a screenwriter, in a film industry limited to historical readings because there is no fiction. One night he has a date with the beautiful and wealthy Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). She tells Mark she is not attracted to him, because of his looks and failing financial situation (he is out of her league), but is going out with him as a favour to his best friend Greg Kleinschmidt (Louis C.K.).

The next day Mark is fired from his job because of the lack of interest in his films, and his landlord threatens to evict him for not paying his rent. Crestfallen, he goes to the bank to close his account. The teller informs him that the computers are down, and asks him how much money he has in his account. Mark has an epiphany that enables him to tell the world's first lie, to the effect that he has $800 — the amount he owed his landlord — in his account. He then lies in a variety of other circumstances, such as preventing a police officer (Edward Norton) from arresting Greg for drunk driving and stopping his depressive neighbour Frank Fawcett (Jonah Hill) from committing suicide. He realises that lying can be used for helping others rather than personal gain, and writes a screenplay about the world being invaded by aliens in the 14th century, in which it is claimed that everyone's memories were erased. He becomes wealthy from the film's success.

Mark convinces Anna to go out with him again; she congratulates Mark for his financial success and admits that he would be a good husband and father, but she is still not attracted to him. Mark then gets a call that his mother has had a heart attack and rushes to the hospital. There, the doctor (Jason Bateman) tells him that his mother is going to die. She is scared of death, believing that it will bring an eternity of nothingness. Mark, through tears, tells her that death instead brings a joyful afterlife, introducing the concept of a Heaven to her, and she dies happy.

Mark soon receives worldwide attention for his supposed new information about death. After encouragement from Anna, he tells the world, through "ten rules" (mirroring the Ten Commandments), that he talks to a "Man In The Sky" (God) who controls everything and promises great rewards in the good place after you die, as long as you do no more than three "bad things" (Sin). Some time later Anna and Mark are together in a park and Anna asks him, if they marry, would his now being rich and famous make their children more physically attractive. Mark wants to lie but does not because of his love for Anna, and says no.

Meanwhile, Mark's enemy Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe) pursues Anna romantically, motivated by Mark's success. Though Brad's selfish, cruel manner makes Anna uncomfortable, she continues dating him and they become engaged. Before the wedding Greg appears and convinces Mark that he has not missed his chance with Anna. Mark reluctantly attends Anna and Brad's wedding, where he objects to the marriage, but the officiant informs him that only the Man in the Sky can stop the wedding. Brad and Anna both ask Mark to ask the Man in the Sky what Anna should do but Mark refuses to say anything and leaves, wanting Anna to choose for herself. Anna walks out and Mark confesses his ability to lie. Anna struggles to understand the concept and asks why he did not lie to convince her to marry him; Mark states that it "wouldn't count". Anna confesses that she loves him.

Some time later, Anna and Mark are shown happily married with a son, who appears by his actions to have inherited his father's ability to lie.



The soundtrack includes Elvis Costello's otherwise-unreleased rendition of the Cat Stevens song Sitting.

Songs also include: Eddie and the Hotrods' "Do Anything You Wanna Do", Donovan's "Catch the Wind", Supertramp's "Give a Little Bit" and ELO's "Mr Blue Sky".

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Invention of Lying" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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