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The Invention of Lying

October 11, 2015

TIOLThe commandment against bearing ‘false witness’ was probably about lawcourts but people generally see it as applying to any telling of lies.

Fundamentalist Christians loathe this film, which maybe explains why I like it.

It’s a world where everyone tells the truth – and just about anything they’re thinking. Mark Bellison is a screenwriter, about to be fired. He’s short and chunky with a flat nose – a genetic setup that means he won’t get to first base with Anna, the woman he loves. At a bank, on the spur of the moment he blurts out a fib, with eye-popping results. Then, when his mother’s on her deathbed, frightened of the eternal void awaiting her, Mark invents fiction. The hospital staff overhear his description of Heaven, believe every word, and tell others. Soon Mark is a prophet, his first inventive screenplay makes him rich, and he’s basically a good guy.

Screenwriters and directors Ricky Gervais (who also stars) and Matthew Robinson give us a world where people not only speak the absolute truth, but also have no internal controls to restrain blurting of uncomfortable and hurtful thoughts. At a restaurant, the hostess looks at gorgeous Jennifer and says, “Hi, I’m threatened by you.” The waiter tells Mark and Jennifer, “I’m very embarrassed that I work here.” And Jennifer is completely, devastatingly upfront with Mark over dinner: “You’re overweight, you have a pug nose, and no job. You’re not good enough for me,” she says, with the blank honesty of a child and not a bit of (intentional) cruelty.

The bonus/extra features is too self-indulgent and a waste of space.

Bob: Hi, I’m Bob I’m the spokesperson for the Coca-Cola company. I’m here today to ask you to continue buying coke. Sure it’s a drink you’ve been drinking for years, and if you still enjoy it, I’d like to remind you to buy it again sometime soon. It’s basically just brown sugar water, we haven’t changed the ingredients much lately, so there’s nothing new I can tell you about that. We changed the can around a little bit though. See, the colors here are different there, and we added a polar bear so the kids like us. Coke is very high in sugar and like any high calorie soda it can lead to obesity in children and adults who don’t sustain a very healthy diet. So that’s it, it’s coke. It’s very famous, everyone knows it. I’m Bob, I work for coke, and I’m asking you to not stop buying coke. That’s all. It’s a bit sweet. Thank you.

Mark Bellison: If you could make the world the way you wanted it to be, what would you do? If you could change anything, if you could do anything, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Richard Bellison: If I could do anything?

Jim the Bartender: Anything at all?

Mark Bellison: Anything at all.

Richard Bellison: I would touch girls’ boobs.

Jim the Bartender: Yes.

Richard Bellison: And maybe have sex with them too.

Jim the Bartender: Oh agreed, that too.

Mark Bellison: Okay, let’s try that. [He gets up]

Richard Bellison: Where you going?

Mark Bellison: Out. [He exists the bar, and looks around. He sees many unattractive women, before a good-looking one walks past. He walks up to her]

Blonde: Don’t look at me, I’m not attracted to you.

Mark Bellison: No listen…

Blonde: Don’t bother, I’ve heard it all before.

Mark Bellison: The world’s gonna end unless we have sex right now!

Blonde: [She turns around, worried] Do we have time to get to a motel, or do we need to do it right here?

Mark Bellison: Motel.

Blonde: [In the motel] Help me get me dress off.

Mark Bellison: No no, wait wait, let’s get to know each-other first.

Blonde: No, we have to have sex! The world is going to end!

Mark Bellison: But I don’t even know your name.

Blonde: Think of the children! Think of the little babies!

Mark Bellison: Let’s have a drink. You look like a… ten dollars for beer? That is…

Blonde: Don’t you understand? We are all going to die!

Anna McDoogles: I was just masturbating.

Mark Bellison: That… makes me think of your vagina

Anna’s Mother: Just because he’s talking to the man in the sky doesn’t mean he’s good enough to be your friend.

Mark Bellison: [calling Anna] Hi, this is Mark.

Anna McDoogles: Oh, hi Mark. Didn’t you get my email?

Mark Bellison: The one about being not good enough for you?

Anna McDoogles: That’s the one.

Mark Bellison: Yeah, got that. Cheers.

Mark Bellison: I did a bad thing…

Anna McDoogles: It’s ok you get three!

Anna McDoogles: [with an epiphany] I’ve finally decided what I want!

Mark Bellison: [expecting the worst] And what is that?

Anna McDoogles: I want short fat kids with snub noses!

Mark Bellison: I’m your man. [Mark smiles; they kiss]

Richard Bellison: [surprised by the homeowner during a burglary] What are you doing here? It’s Monday at noon. You’re not supposed to be home now!

Man at the Door: If you must know, I’m incredibly stressed at work, I’ve come home early, I’m having a bit of me-time. More importantly, what are you doing?

Richard Bellison: Well, I was gonna rob your house.

Man at the Door: I don’t like that idea. Not a fan of that at all.

Richard Bellison: I’m not gonna do it now, because you’re in.

Man at the Door: Do you know what’s gonna happen? I’m gonna call the police, you’re gonna be arrested.

Richard Bellison: Well, I’m just gonna leave, and you don’t know my name.

Man at the Door: What is your name?

Richard Bellison: Richard Bellison.

Anna’s Mother: Man In The Sky forbid!

Greg: This is the most amazing night of my entire life.

Mark Bellison: Think how amazing if you didn’t smell of vomit.

Talking Head Woman: Wow, I just took one of the biggest poops of my whole life. What are you ordering?

Anna McDoogles: You’re smart. You’re kind. You’re the sweetest man I’ve ever met. You are… You are definitely the most-interesting person I know. And you are fun to be with. And you see the world in a way that nobody else sees the world, and I like the way you see the world. You’re my best friend. You make me happier than anyone I’ve ever known. And I love you.

Brad Kessler: We both know that one day you’re going to lose your looks.

Anna McDoogles: You’re chubby and you have a snub nose.

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