The Invention of Lying

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The Invention of Lying

Official Poster (US)
Directed by Ricky Gervais
Matthew Robinson
Produced by Lynda Obst
Oly Obst
Written by Ricky Gervais
Matthew Robinson
Starring Ricky Gervais
Jennifer Garner
Music by Tim Atack
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Edited by Chris Gill
Distributed by Universal Pictures [International]
Warner Brothers Pictures [Domestic]
Release Dates 02 October 2009
02 October 2009
Running Time 100 minutes
Country USA
Language English
Budget $18.5 million
IMDB Profile

For the blog created by Ricky Gervais see This Side of the Truth (blog)

The Invention of Lying (formerly This Side of the Truth) is a feature film comedy co-written by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson. The pair also co-directed the film, which stars Gervais and Jennifer Garner in the lead roles. Principal photography began in April 2008 and was completed the following month in May, with the very final cut of the film finished in April 2009.

Early drafts of the script were leaked to several internet sites. The initial responses were very favourable, one website even lauding its potential as an instant classic.<ref></ref>


The Invention of Lying is set in a contemporary world where the human race has not evolved the capacity to tell lies. The lead character, Mark Bellison, played by Ricky Gervais, is a screenwriter working for Lecture Films, a film studio that creates movies that simply recount historical events. Stuck in a drab life with a boring job, below-average looks and slob friends, Bellison is going nowhere fast, until he discovers he has the ability to lie in a world that only knows truth. Presenting his lies as fact and with people believing his every word, he becomes all powerful and incredibly popular as the greatest storyteller his world has known and uses this new status to gain the wealth, fame and love that were once unattainable. <ref></ref><ref></ref>


  • Ricky Gervais as Mark
  • Jennifer Garner as Jennifer
  • Louis CK as Greg
  • Tina Fey as Shelley
  • Rob Lowe as Rob
  • Jonah Hill as Frank
  • Christopher Guest as Nathan Goldfrappe
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Anthony
  • Jason Bateman as Doctor

In addition there was a cameo by Stephen Merchant and Shaun "Barry off Eastenders" Williamson, with Barry playing Ricky's dad in a flashback scene. IMDb also lists Karl Pilkington as an actor, and in fact he did have a brief cameo as a caveman in the opening sequence of the film (as discussed on The Culture Show and on the NME Radio Show). However in a video on, Karl revealed that his appearance was cut out of the film.


The original working title for the script was The Invention of Lying, during the production process, inspired by the title of a Dylan Thomas poem, the film was renamed This Side Of The Truth. This remained the name until just before promotion of the film began, at which point Gervais and co-writer Matt Robinson, with encouragement from the distributor, reverted to the original title, which they felt would allow for more freedom in marketing the movie; other names considered include The Truth About Lying and The Other Side of the Truth.

In a Pilkipedia poll the most popular name among fans was the joke entry Truthy Truthy Truth Truth, a reference to a prank played by Ricky years earlier, the most popular genuine title was This Side of the Truth.

Box Office

During the opening weekend the film made $7,027,472 in 1,707 theaters in the US and £1,735,236 in 368 theaters in the UK. It came in 5th place in the US box office and 2nd place in the UK.

Critical Reception

The film received mixed reviews, some positive, some negative resulting in a mediocre score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Positive Reviews

From Roger Ebert: "I saw the trailer for "The Invention of Lying" and expected to dislike it. It's a much better movie than the trailer dares to admit. Today's trailers would make "Sophie's Choice" into a feel-good story. Watching the movie, I thought -- oh, yeah, that's right: It's October. Good movies are allowed again."

From Hollywood Reporter: "But even when it's merely mildly amusing, this inspired parable, set in a parallel universe where only the truth is spoken, is so wittily winsome you'll readily cut Gervais and Robinson some slack if they don't quite succeed in going the distance."

From Washington Post: "It combines the cheerfully subversive religious satire of "The Life of Brian" with the humanism that has often been submerged in Gervais's pricklier characters."

Negative Reviews

From Empire: "Proof that when you aim for the stars, sometimes you find a black hole. Hopefully just an anomaly for the usually wonderful Gervais."

From Los Angeles Times: "The truth is that Ricky Gervais' new comedy is too thin in character and plot to carry a feature-length film, not that it doesn't have its moments. There just aren't enough of them."

From New York Times: "And while the movie is a conceptual pip filled with quotable laughs and gentle pokes at religious faith at its most literal, it also looks so shoddy that you yearn for the camerawork, lighting and polish of his shows, like the original “The Office,” because, really, these days TV rarely looks this bad."

Karl Pilkington's Review

Karl reviewed the film on The Ricky Gervais Podcast which is available for free on iTunes. It can also be seen on YouTube (Part 1, Part 2).

According to Karl: "It was good, I enjoyed it. Does what it says on the tin, The Invention of Lying so it's about the invention of lying. Actors are good. Right sort of length, I was just getting bored when it sort of ended but that's about right, that's what you want. So yeah, see it."


Several Christian websites such as Christianity Today and The Catholic Spirit have accused the film of being blasphemous and atheist propaganda. Gervais responded to these accusations directly on his blog prior to the film's release:

Ricky Gervais as Mark Bellison
Here are my seven deadly sins of jumping to conclusions:
1. No one has seen the film.
2. Even if the film suggests there is no God, it is a fictional world. One of my favourite films is 'It's a wonderful life' and at no time am I offended by the suggestion in this wonderful work of fiction that there is a God.
3. If the film was not set in a fictional world and suggested there is no God then that's fine too, as it is anyone's right not to believe in God.
4. By suggesting there is no God you are not singling out Christianity.
5. Not believing in God cannot be blasphemous. Blasphemy is acknowledging a God to insult or offend etc.
6. Even if it was blasphemous, which it isn't, then that's OK too due to a little god I like called "freedom of speech." That said, I am not trying to offend anyone. That would be a waste of such a privilege.
7. I am an atheist, but this is not atheist propaganda. When creating an imaginary world you have to make certain decisions. We decided also that there would be no surrealist art, no racism, no flattery, no fiction, no metaphor, and no supernatural. However, we decided that apart from that one "lying gene", humans evolved with everything else as we have it today. Joy, hope, ambition, ruthlessness, greed, lust, anger, jealousy, sadness, and grief. It's just a film. If any of the themes in it offend you or bore you, or just don't make sense to you, you should put everything right when you make a film.
I really hope everyone enjoys the film and keeps an open mind. I believe in peace on Earth, and good will to all men. I do as I would be done by, and believe that forgiveness is one of the greatest virtues. I just don't believe I will be rewarded for it in heaven. That's all.


  • This will be Ricky Gervais' second lead role in a Hollywood movie. The first was Ghost Town.
  • According to, "Matthew Robinson wrote the script (and has since worked with Gervais on it)." <ref></ref>
  • Producers Lynda Obst and Oly Obst are mother and son.
  • A blog featuring updates from Ricky can be found on his website.




External links