The Invention of Lying

Rated 2.0

One of the great strengths of Ricky Gervais’ time-capsule-worthy television series The Office and Extras was the complex comic tone that veered so easily between ridiculous and pathetic. The great weakness of Gervais’ first two forays into leading-man comedy on the big screen—last year’s Ghost Town and now his and partner Matthew Robinson’s writing/directing debut The Invention of Lying—is that they’re both one-joke movies that fail to strike any kind of consistent tone. Gervais plays a sweet, “snub-nosed” loser who becomes the first person to “say what isn’t” in a contemporary alternate universe where humans never developed the ability to lie. It’s a clever idea for about 15 minutes, but Lying doesn’t involve you in its stock characters, and there aren’t enough ideas to feed its high-concept premise.