Written by Ricky Gervais

Directed by Ricky Gervais

 Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner



The Invention of Lying


“The Invention of Lying” is one of those films that studios have absolutely no concept of how to promote, or for that matter even exactly what it is.  The conceit is that everyone in the world can only tell the truth, which makes for some startling advertising signs (Pepsi ads say: “For When They Don’t Have Coke.” a retirement home is called “A Sad Place Where Homeless Old People Come to Die”).  It was written and directed by Ricky Gervais and is about, well, the invention of lying – or I should say, the invention of imagination, which is actually a very different thing.  Ricky Gervais (Mark Bellison) is a screenwriter, and not a very good one, at a studio called “Lecture Films,” where each writer is given one century to write a screenplay for, sticking only to the facts, which will be delivered by an authority sitting in a chair.  Unfortunately, Mark has been given the 14th century (the black death) and he can’t seem to make it very interesting.  He’s about to be fired, when he goes into the bank to take out his last three hundred dollars, and then something happens:  The teller tells him the computers are down and how much money would he like.  He thinks, and then says “$800.”  She gives it to him and apologises for the mistake.


Now the light goes on in Mark’s head as he realizes that he is onto something.  He has a date with Jennifer Garner who announces that he’s arrived too early and interrupted her masturbation, and by the way he is too short and pudgy for her to be seriously interested in him.  But this new invention has taken hold of him, and at his next visit to A Sad Place he tells his mother that there is a man in the sky who will give her a mansion when she dies, and she will see all of her friends there.  Soon all the other patients are energized by Mark’s invention, and are looking forward to death.


Word spreads quickly and the world beats a path to his door; he writes out a statement from The Man In The Sky on two pizza cartons, which the world takes a gospel.  By some miracle of screenwriting, Mark does not get delusions of grandeur, but stays within his world of limited achievements, which is a much better idea for the film.  The whole thing is a delicious comment on religion and truth, and Gervais as screenwriter and director does a very good job.