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Despite the mixed reviews I have read at the time of the film’s theatrical release, I found THE INVENTION OF LYING ($36) to be a smart, charming, funny and winning satire of the human condition. With THE INVENTION OF LYING, co-writer/co-director and star Ricky Gervais invites the audience into an alternate reality, in which the human race never developed the genetic capacity for lying. Hence, everyone is in this alternate reality is brutally honest, saying exactly what he or she is thinking, without ever sugarcoating even the most unpleasant aspects of the truth. Religion is also absent from this world, as its inhabitants lack the genetic capacity to take a leap of faith, plus their mindsets limit them to observable truths. Another side effect of humanity’s inability to lie is the fact that this world is bereft of imagination or any type of fiction. In fact, all entertainment is based upon historic facts; with the entire motion picture industry consisting of lecturers reading said histories into the camera. Even television commercials and print ads take truth in advertising to shockingly amusing levels.

After setting up the rules of this alternate reality, THE INVENTION OF LYING quickly introduces us to unsuccessful lecture-film writer Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais), whose life is on the verge of falling apart. On the personal and professional levels, everyone tells Mark that he is nothing more than a big fat loser… something which they do at every possible opportunity. Mark’s loser status is evidenced by an unsuccessful blind date with Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner), who, despite having a better time with him than she thought she would, dismisses Mark based upon his looks and poor financial prospects for the future. Following his blind date, Mark finds himself fired from his screen-writing job and evicted from his apartment for not having enough money to pay his rent. Going to the bank to withdraw the last of his savings, Mark discovers the banks computer systems to be down. When the teller asks him how much money was left in his account, Mark has an epiphany and blurts out the full amount he needs to cover his rent, instead of the actual dollar amount left in his account. Even when the computer comes back up, and the teller notices the discrepancy, she assumes it to be a computer error and gives Mark the dollar amount he stated was in the account.

After confounding his friends, who believe absolutely everything he says, Mark realizes the potential of his newly discovered ability and begins to turn his life around. One of the first things Mark does is to write a completely fictitious screenplay about some previously unknown historic events, with said screenplay making him rich and successful. With his new confidence and financial security, Mark convinces Anna to go out with him again, and while she enjoys his company, Anna doesn’t want her children to carry his obvious genetics traits. THE INVENTION OF LYING then takes a turn towards religious satire when Mark’s mother Martha (Fionnula Flanagan) has a heart attack, and in an in an attempt to ease her fear of death, Mark makes up a comforting story about a joyful afterlife. Marks tale of the afterlife is overheard by the hospital staff, who begin spread it by word of mouth. Soon, the story the afterlife snowballs, and ultimately garners worldwide media attention for Mark… with the people of the world wanting to know more.

Considering the religious implications, there are some aspects of THE INVENTION OF LYING that are certain to rub some people the wrong way. On the other hand, I found the romantic facets of the story to be fairly enchanting, while the satire on human nature proved itself to be really quite funny. Ricky Gervais and co-writer/co-director Matthew Robinson hit the mark more often than they miss with their observations, and the broad strokes in which they paint their satire. The cast of THE INVENTION OF LYING also features Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, Donna Sorbello, Stephanie March, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jason Bateman and Christopher Guest, as well as uncredited bits from Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Warner Home Video has made THE INVENTION OF LYING available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. As THE INVENTION OF LYING was shot in the same unassuming, well-lit style, as so many other screen comedies, it arrives in high definition with a relatively pleasant 1080p presentation. There are good levels of sharpness and image detail, but the sitcom-ish lighting precludes the picture from having too many complexities. Also I do have to note, that some shots look a bit softer than others, but in general, image comes across nicely. Colors are a little cool and are rendered at a realistic level of saturation. Blacks appear deep, while the whites are clean. Contrast and shadow detail is just fine for this type of undemanding visual production. The elements from which THE INVENTION OF LYING has been transferred appear free of flaws. Grain is noticeable during the presentation and isn’t intrusive.

THE INVENTION OF LYING is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Sonically, there isn’t too much going on here; the sound design is fairly standard issue for this type talky comic material. The majority of sonic activity is localized to the front, but the outlying channels do provide the expected complement of, modest effects, as well as some ambience and general fill. Thanks to the lossless encode, the musical component sounds quite nice. As for the bass channel, it coasts its way through the movie. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue is usually easy to understand. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Prequel: The Dawn Of Lying (seven minutes), A Truly "Honest" Making Of Featurette With Ricky Gervais (seven minutes), Meet Karl Pilkington (eighteen minutes) and Ricky And Matt's Video Podcasts (ten minutes). Deleted Scenes and Outtakes close out the standard extras. A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

As I stated above, I found THE INVENTION OF LYING to be a smart, charming, funny and winning satire of the human condition. The Blu-ray presentation makes the most of the film’s unremarkable cinematography, but will not win any new converts to the high definition format.



The Invention of Lying [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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