The Invention of Lying is painfully unfunny. Ricky Gervais is talented and can be a funny man, but he missed the target this time. A one-joke film in which the joke makes less and less sense the more you think about it. Within ten minutes I was finding the entire premise irritating rather than amusing. There’s a hint of clever satire but it’s completely drowned as a painful romance between Gervais’ character and one of the least likeable and sympathetic characters ever to appear on screen plays out in a world requiring more belief-suspension than is technically possible.
Nobody can tell a lie, it seems. You can just about buy into that idea for 90 minutes. But it appears that everyone must always blurt out their worst thoughts at inopportune moments even when not asked a direct question. Not that they’re in a constant stream-of-consciousness; it just happens for comic effect. So it becomes a world filled with obnoxious tactless morons, not honest people. Even that might have survived as an enjoyable film had the writing and plot risen above the average, but they don’t. The protagonist falls in love with the most shallow and unlikeable woman in a world full of them, making it impossible to feel anything but relief when she spurns his advances and incredulity when she finally succumbs to his charms. Charms which consist essentially of (a) that she occasionally laughs when he’s around — though we don’t actually see very much of that, and (b) his dishonestly-acquired wealth and success. Her conversion is complete when she encounters a “chubby” kid being bullied in a park in one of the most cringe-inducing scenes in cinema history (she didn’t want “chubby, snub-nosed children”, you see?)
An idea that might have had some potential is squandered by writing that tries at turns to be mainstream romcom, social satire and crass sex-comedy and never convinces with any of them. Overall, avoid.