It's a world where everyone tells the truth - and just about anything they're thinking. Mark Bellison is a screenwriter, about to be fired. He's short and chunky with a flat nose - a genetic setup that means he won't get to first base with Anna, the woman he loves. At a bank, on the spur of the moment he blurts out a fib, with eye-popping results. Then, when his mother's on her deathbed, frightened of the eternal void awaiting her, Mark invents fiction. The hospital staff overhear his description of Heaven, believe every word, and tell others. Soon Mark is a prophet, his first inventive screenplay makes him rich, and he's basically a good guy. But will that be enough for Anna? Written by
Director, writer and actor Ricky Gervais sponsored an online Photoshop contest related to the movie theme by asking contestants to edit known movie posters as if those posters were usually lying to the audience. See more »
The establishing shot for the motel where Mark brings the Blonde (Stephanie March) shows a one-story building with red doors, but when he leaves, the door is black and numbered "222". See more »
This may be the most philosophical romantic comedy since Groundhog Dog(Ramis, 1993). It starts with the brilliant premise "What if nobody had ever told a lie and did not even understand that a lie was possible?" It is an interesting question. The movie first draws laughs by setting up this type of world. It then draws laughs by showing us how lying can turn the world upset down.
A great comedy entertains and this one does that, but it also raises some highly provocative questions about religion and people's susceptibility to it. To put icing on the cake, the movie has some startlingly beautiful scenes, for example, where the lead character soothes his mother over her coming death and the scene where Mark (Ricky Gervais) refuses to lie to Anna (Jennifer Garner).
Gervais reminds one of Lou Costello with a sweetness and gentleness unique for a comedian unique for this age. Jennifer Garner at age 37 here seems a little too old for the working-girl looking to get married part, but she has never looked more beautiful than in this movie.
There are some nice short scenes with Tina Fey, Jeffrey Tambor and others. One wishes that their characters could have been more developed and had more to do.
On the DVD, there's a great 7 minute prequel, which apparently was supposed to be the beginning of the movie. It is terrific and I think they made a mistake in editing it out. Be sure to watch it.
I plan on showing scenes from this movie to my Philosophy class next semester.
One warning, thoughtless evangelicals will probably see it as an attack on their holiness fantasy, so don't invite your born-again Christian friends over to see it.
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