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The Invention of Lying Review Critics


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Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    In the spirit of that world, I cannot tell a lie: The Invention of Lying, which the English comedian both directed and wrote with Matthew Robinson, soon loses altitude and eventually falls flat.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    By adhering to the romantic-comedy formula, The Invention of Lying stops short of being truly inventive. But enough sequences are fresh and inspired to make this a comedy honestly worth catching.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    Gervais and Robinson take what might have been a cute concept comedy and elevate it to delicious heights.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The performances are razor sharp. And the ideas in this movie are, no kidding, big.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    In its amiable, quiet, PG-13 way, The Invention of Lying is a remarkably radical comedy.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 14 & under

Gervais' irreverent fable isn't meant for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Invention of Lying is, like most of star Ricky Gervais' humor, irreverent and edgy (though also thought provoking). Nothing is sacred -- including religion (in the movie, the concept of God, aka "The Man in the Sky," is one of the lies that the main character invents). There's no sex on screen, but there's lots of talk about it -- including masturbation references, propositions, use of words like "boobies," etc. Expect a fair bit of salty language, from name-calling ("prick," "bastard," "faggot," "manbitch") to infrequent use of "f--k" and "s--t." Characters drink beer, wine, champagne, and whiskey; there's some drunkenness, and a man is shown driving while intoxicated. Lots of commercial products are shown on screen, with some showing up in scene after scene.

  • Families can talk about how the movie uses laughter to address some important ideas. Did it make you think in new ways about concepts like honesty, lying, and faith?
  • There are "bad" and "good" lies (fibs or white lies) in this film. Arethere times when you've not told the truth to avoid hurting someone? Are there times when a fib is better than the facts?
  • In the movie, much importance is placed on how people look -- and the necessity of having "beautiful children." What is the movie is saying about body image and our obsession with attractiveness?
  • How did the filmmakers convey that the story took place in a fantasyworld? Did the settings, characters, and dialogue help you accept thatworld?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Although the movie is all about introducing the concept of lying to the world, the end take-away is that the world can be a bleak place if you don't have faith in yourself and in the future. The movie also makes the point that it isn't necessary to say everything you think -- that there are times when telling the truth can be hurtful and unkind. A relationship based on outward appearances and superficial qualities ultimately proves to be unsatisfying and demeaning.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Even though he sometimes uses the concept of lying for personal/petty gain, ultimately the main character most often lies in order to help people who are hurt, afraid, or feel hopeless. At a crucial point in the story, he faces a dilemma and must choose between an easy lie or a difficult truth. The kind-hearted leading lady learns to value more than good looks and outward charm.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: A law enforcement officer roughly pulls a driver out of a car. Some boys pick on an overweight child and push an ice cream cone in his face.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Other than a brief kiss, there's no visual sexual activity, but the characters talk about it often ("I'm not going to sleep with him," "touch boobies," "have sex with them," "it arouses me"), and there are a number of references to masturbation. A coupon is presented for "birthday sex," a sign advertising a motel reads: "A cheap hotel for intercourse with a stranger," the main character tests out the idea of lying by propositioning a beautiful woman, etc.

  • language false3

    Language: Occasional obscenities and use of derogatory terms, including: "f--k," "s--t," "manbitch," "crap," "prick," "boobies," "bastard," "faggot," "queer," and "douchebag."

  • consumerism false4

    Consumerism: Plenty of in-your-face product placement throughout: Characters drink Budweiser beer in many scenes; other brands/products include Moet Champagne, Craigslist, and Pizza Hut. Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola advertisements are parodied in several sequences.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Alcoholic beverages are consumed in many scenes: wine, champagne, whiskey. Beer drinking is particularly pervasive. In some sequences, drinking is used to self-medicate for depression and hopelessness. Two characters are shown getting drunk in a bar; one then drives a car unsteadily, weaving across the road for comic effect. One character declares that he's spent the night "throwing up pain killers," while another refers to his own "cocaine habit."