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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

trailer break: ‘The Invention of Lying’

Take a break from work: watch a trailer…

Oh, what to make of this. Will it be funny? The trailer’s kinda funny. (Does it give away all the best jokes? Please, let that not be the case.) Will it be an awkward and uncomfortable movie-length rant about how “nice guys” never get the hot girls, with a bit of revenge fantasy thrown in? Because it looks like it could be that. Or it looks like it could be a satire on how men take advantage of women. Or on how women take advantage of men.

No, it’ll be about men, one way or another. Otherwise, the trailer would feature a less than gorgeous, frumpy schlub of a woman walking around and telling handsome men, “I’m a totally hot babe,” and they’d believe her. So it’s not so much of a fantasy — or a satire — as all that.

The Invention of Lying opens in the U.S. and the U.K. on October 2.

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  • JoshDM

    I’m a totally hot babe.

  • Accounting Ninja

    My initial reaction is meh. Again, we have super hott ladies aside shlubby guys, except that one “hot” guy who seems to be the film’s resident douchebag. It’s amazing to me how often these old nerd vs. hot douchey guy for attention of hot girl stories get played out! Arg. Why can’t you grow up out of that old dynamic, Hollywood?

    The whole “nobody lies” thing struck me as a convenient way to play up the female love interest’s gullible stupidity.

    That gimmick is gonna bug me like in “Liar Liar”. Unable to tell a lie does not equal unable to keep your fool mouth shut.

  • Fuggle

    It’s a pity, as there seems to be a lot that could be plumbed from the idea of a world where no one lies and possibly everyone speaks their mind (and how it’s different from our world, because it certainly would be – or, if it was uniform, would it? Maybe we’d learn how to handle the truth) – ability of one person to lie or not. Pity the movie doesn’t look like it intends to really use the central premise to explore how rather vital (or at least central) lying (and keeping your mouth shut) is to human interaction.

    Though I question how much it’s ‘gullibility’ on the part of anyone to be taken in by the world’s one liar, no matter how outrageous the lie, if you have no frame of reference for “lie”, even if it doesn’t make much sense.

  • Paul

    Ah, a world without lying. A world of silence and sincerity. A world without Reagan, Nixon, Bill Clinton, JFK, the Bushes . . . in the White House.

    What was the name of those aliens in Galaxy Quest who thought Gilligan’s Island was real? Theremons? No more art, but at least they seemed like a basically happy bunch, even when being exerminated.

  • mel

    If no one ever lies, no one can lie, why would they even have the word lie? it wouldn’t even exist….
    Sorry, just overthinking it.

  • Grinebiter

    The Houyhnhnms had no concept of lying, and when it was explained to them by Gulliver, they rendered it as Saying the Thing That Is Not.

    Ninja is right to say that lying and logorrhea are not the same thing. If I think that someone is an asshole, I am under no obligation to say so until asked. Although a situation is conceivable wherein I am not asked, but nevertheless ought to speak out

    Another distinction is between lying and spin. We all spin, no exceptions. A world without spin would be a world where no one has a point of view, no one has an individual subjectivity, and I would contend that this is impossible. If I say that I have been to Poland, that would be a lie, because I never have; if I say that a girl dumped me, that is spin, firstly because “dump” is tendentious language, and second because she might describe the events differently. But am I lying, if I truly believe it, if I sincerely experience it that way? Hard question, where the Kingdom of Lies borders on the Empire of Self-Deceit.

    I don’t buy the premise of this film as described, because I hold to the Machiavelli Hypothesis of the evolution of the human brain. Which is grossly over-engineered for the tool-using that people used to tell us was our killer ap.

  • Martin

    The problem with ‘no one lies’ is that it implies that ‘everyone tells the truth’. But what the hell is truth? Truth is something incredibly subjective…

    And you know what? We’ve probably explored the concept of a world without lies a lot more than either the film does or Ricky Gervais has done right now.

    My analysis of the trailer? Another opportunity for Gervais to flex his unfortunately inflated ego. He gets to play the smug bastard that he is.
    We’re not going to get a deep insight into how the world would be different if nobody lied, we’re going to get a film about how Ricky Gervais is smarter than everyone else because he can lie.

  • AlsoKatie

    Even accepting the premise (which looks pretty flimsy) does he use this power for anything other than controlling pretty women? It’s like Patrick Stewart’s film from Extras come to misogynistic life.

    Yep, looks like a stupid premise and stupider execution. Too bad.

  • Grinebiter

    Recte: I meant of course to say, “Ninja is right to say that truth-telling and logorrhea are not the same thing.” Sorry.

  • RyanT

    Love the deep discussion here about what is a lie and what is the truth. But y’all do realize this is a comedy, right?

    (Unless I’m mistaken, then my bad.)

  • Accounting Ninja

    Yeah, it’s a comedy. But, for me, it has to prove it’s got fresher ideas than just lazy wish fulfillment. And unoriginal lazy wish fulfillment at that.

    It’s my curse I suppose that my geek brain takes over and causes me to overthink everything until I drive myself batty. Unless the movie can charm me and sweep me into the fantasy so I forget my nattering brain for a while, I won’t like it. That’s what Liar Liar failed to do…

    @Grinebiter: Yet again you give my nattering brain fodder! Must you distract me so?? :D

  • Grinebiter

    @Grinebiter: Yet again you give my nattering brain fodder! Must you distract me so?? :D

    One does one’s humble best :-)

  • MaryAnn

    Guys, turns out this is an awful trailer, and not representative of the film. I won’t say too much more before I post my review… but it works. It really does. It’s broad satire, and it’s very very clever.

  • Guys, turns out this is an awful trailer, and not representative of the film. I won’t say too much more before I post my review… but it works. It really does. It’s broad satire, and it’s very very clever.

    Who the heck are you and what have you done with MaryAnn? ;-)

  • She’s right. The first half of this movie is INCREDIBLY ballsy; its real target isn’t even hinted at in the trailer. Gervais is apparently already getting some flak for it.

    After that satirical bombshell, the movie starts to run out of steam, but the incredible chutzpah Gervais shows carries it the rest of the way.

  • In other words, it’s another “satire” of religious people. Or Republicans. Or some other easy target that has been satirized a hundred times better in some other movie.

    I hope I’m wrong but I wouldn’t put my rent money on it. (Then again, I don’t actually pay rent…)


    OK, since you’re giving it away: yes, it’s a satire of religion. Gervais’s character invents the concept of the afterlife, and becomes a de facto prophet, having to continually invent new rules and messages from “The Man in the Sky” to keep everyone happy, and keeps digging things in deeper.

    It’s actually about the most generous depiction of religion possible from the atheist point of view. More to the point, though, the movie is flatly atheistic and makes no bones about the fact that Gervais just made up the concept of God, something that doesn’t exist in this previously “lie-free” society.

    I’d like to know the last mainstream Hollywood movie, or modern movie PERIOD, that was that blunt about atheism. And there will be people wanting to burn Gervais alive after this movie. The target may be easy (though, again, he takes it in a more generous direction than just about any religious satire I can think of) but that doesn’t make it any less brave of him.

  • MaryAnn

    No, goddamit, it is not okay to post spoilers for a movie that has not even released yet, and certainly NOT WITHOUT A SPOILER WARNING!

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