Ricky Gervais’s The Invention of Lying is sneakily subversive. It starts out as a very clever science fiction comedy: We’re in an alternate universe where lying doesn’t exist. As such, there is no fiction, and total truth in advertising.
“A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People,” reads the sign on the entranceway to an old age home.
“When There’s No Coke,” reads a billboard for Pepsi. (Heh.)
People, too, feel compelled to blurt out the truth: “I’m embarrassed to work here,” says a waiter as he approaches a table where our hero Mark (Gervais) is on a date with beautiful Anna (Jennifer Garner.) “I’m out of your league,” she tells mark matter-of-factly.
When Mark gets fired from his job as a “screenwriter” (films are essentially historical readings) he finds himself in danger of being evicted. He goes to the bank to withdraw his final $300 and, in an epiphany, discovers that he can lie about the amount he has in his account. (He’s a nice guy. He says he has $800.) He has, as the title says, invented the lie....