Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blu Ray Review: The Invention of Lying (2009)

The Invention of Lying
099 minutes
Rated PG-13
Available 01/19/10 from Warner Home Video on DVD, Blu Ray, OnDemand, and iTunes.

by Scott Mendelson

The Invention of Lying is a film that trades in one simplification for another and fails to fully explore either of the two concepts that it pertains to be about. On the surface, it concerns an alternate universe where not one does no one lie, but everyone pretty much speaks whatever happens to be on their mind. This leads to simplistic scenes of waiters wantonly insulting their patrons, co-workers brutally berating their fellow employees, and hospital staff giving brutally honest medical diagnosis to their doomed patients. Cute, but the film never really explores whether or not society could actually function in a world where everyone simply blurted out their inter-most thoughts, be they sexual fantasies or irrational fears.

Alas, before the true consequences of this society can be explored, the film segues into a somewhat unexpected direction that completely dominates the latter half of the picture. While I won't reveal just what occurs at the halfway mark, even this interesting story twist is not truly explored beyond the absolute surface level, and every smart idea that the movie has is held hostage by the conventional romantic subplot about yet another regular-guy (Ricky Gervais) trying to score with an out-of-his-league beauty (Jennifer Garner).

There are laughs to be had amongst the large cast (Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Edward Norton, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., and Jeffrey Tambor are among those who make extended cameos), but the world where no one lies and the world where no one believes in anything not established by science is not really explored in any depth beyond its use for a generic romantic comedy. Any ideas concerning the need for occasional white-lies for the sake of human decency was already explored in Liar, Liar back in 1997. The Invention of Lying is not a stupid film, but it doesn't have nearly enough on its mind.

Grade: C-

The Blu Ray looks and sounds fine, with a 1.78 widescreen presentation and an English 5.1 TrueHD audio track along with the usual Warner Bros audio and subtitle options. Alas, while there are nearly an hour of extras, not a one of them explores the movie or the ideas within the movie in any real depth. The longest piece in a 17-minute featurette on co-star Karl Pilkinton. There are five minutes of bloopers, ten minutes of video podcasts, and eight minutes of deleted scenes, and eight minutes of co-stars bantering with Gervais. The only other extra, aside from the usual digital copy, is a six-minute 'prequel' called "The Dawn of Lying", which may or may not have been intended to be an alternate opening. Alas, nothing much to see here folks.

The movie isn't nearly as smart or clever as it thinks it is, and the supplemental materials provide little depth to what went into the making of the film. At best, this disc is a rental for those who are fans of someone in the cast.

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