Quick Movie Review: The Invention Of Lying (2009)

I hadn’t heard good things about Ricky Gervais’ The Invention Of Lying. I don’t exactly remember what those not good things were, but they didn’t stop me from putting this flick towards the top of my queue along with all the other movies which have a very long to short wait and get sent whenever the Netflix gods deem me worthy. Luckily, the missus and I actually really enjoyed the movie, so forgetting the bad things people said wasn’t such a big deal (and probably a good way to go about life in general, but I digress).

The idea behind the movie is that in the world of Gervais and company (including Rob Lowe, Jennifer Garner, Lous CK, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Jeffrey Tambor, Nathan Corddry, Martin Starr, Jason Bateman, Christopher Guest, Bobby Moynihan, Ed Norton, Stephen Merchant and Philip Seymour Hoffman, mostly in one off cameos) humans never developed the ability to lie, but somehow, in the course of this story something clicks in Gervais’ head and he can lie. Since the world doesn’t know what lying is (they don’t seem to have words for real and fake or their synonyms because up till then, they didn’t need them). Gervais spends the movie digging himself deeper and deeper by not only making up a movie (which, in this world, is just a video of a reader reading a script of historical events in a chair) that involves aliens and ninjas to basically creating religion, all the while trying to get with Garner. Garner’s not having any of it because she wants her kids to be genetically superior and doesn’t want Gervais’ short, chubby genes taking over for her hot ones.

Overall it’s a pretty interesting movie that has some logical flaws like people always saying what they feel. Maybe this is a philosophical argument, but not saying something and lying aren’t the same thing to me. Of course, those statements resulted in the most laughs so what are you gonna do? I also got to wondering about this world’s original societies. Historians believe that early man invented gods because he really believed they were there, but did that happen in this world? Or, did they just stop once someone came along and said “Hey, that’s just the sun, not the eye of a giant god.” Anyway, even with those questions in mind, I still liked the movie, thought it was pretty funny and especially liked that Hollywood created a movie like this. Alternate realities in a romantic comedy? Doesn’t exactly seem like the most obvious movie to put out does it? But, as I like to remind myself, there were times when the most popular TV shows were Twilight Zone, I Dream Of Jeanie, Bewitched and Lost In Space. Maybe we just need a little more sci-fi, futuristic, alternate reality weirdness in our lives that doesn’t come from hour long dramas like Lost and Fringe. Basically, I want How I Met Your Mother IN SPACE!!!

Conan, Ricky Gervais & Kenneth The Page

I wanted to watch Conan’s Tonight Show last night with all the craziness that’s been swirling around him and Jay Leno. If you’re interested, you can check out the whole episode here, but I pulled out a few fun clips I liked. I’ve got to give it to Conan for being as ballsy with this whole thing as he is. Making fun of the boss on the boss’s dime takes guts and he, Andy Richter and guest Ricky Gervais went at it like crazy. Here’s a few of my favorite moments.

Obama weighs in on Conan (I’m guessing he’s talking about another Conan, but really have no idea).

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Conan suggests some changes for NBC to make in their Olympics coverage.

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Conan’s monologue gets interrupted by Kenneth The Page from 30 Rock giving a tour through the Tonight Show studio. He gets a lot of good ones in like “It actually took NBC longer to build the set than they used it for.” Good, good stuff.

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And, finally, here’s the four clips from Gervais’ interview. Conan keeps trying to ask Gervais about his projects, but Ricky keeps bringing it back to Conan and the late night situation.

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"Look, Another Girl Fight Season Finale"

The above quote was straight from my lovely wife’s mouth as we watched the last episode of the third season of Alias. If you could somehow throw the word “crying” in there it would completely sum up my thoughts on this show. Season 3 really seemed to rehash a lot of previous ideas from the show (a man being betrayed by his spy wife, distrust in the organization, lying to loved ones, bad guys who just won’t die, incredibly sloppy spy stuff and crying. Lots of crying from our bad ass heroine.

The funny thing, though, is that I kind of liked these storylines better than those from the previous seasons. Maybe it’s that I knew what I was getting into when we started. Maybe it’s because the few people whose opinions I’ve heard said it was supposed to get so much worse this season, I’m not sure. I actually enjoyed this season more what with all the Rambaldi stuff taking center stage and twins and other family members coming to light. It’s not a great show, but the ticks seemed to be less (or at least less obvious) and you can see where shows like Lost and Fringe may have had their earliest seeds.

The most impressive element of this show, by far, has been the crazy amount of high quality guest stars they were able to pull in. Here’s a fairly completely list from Season 3: Scott Adsit, Djimon Hounsou, Bradley Cooper (he came back!), Richard Roundtree (seriously, Shaft is following me), David Cronenberg, Terry O’Quinn (he also came back!), Quentin Tarantino (also came back!), Isabella Rossellini (yeesh), Vivica A. Fox, Ricky Gervais (of original Office fame and general awesomeness), Raymond J. Barry, Peggy Lipton (Julie from The Mod Squad and Norma Jennings from Twin Peaks) and David Carradine (another returner). That’s a pretty impressive roster, especially when you consider that many of them made appearances in multiple episodes.

So, I’m curious to see how Season 4 and 5 go. I know there’s a twin or something. And a baby. But, since my expectations are pretty low, so I can’t really get TOO disappointed.

The Best Show of All Time

3:10:20 am

Yup, I said it. In my opinion, The Office (the original BBC series) is the best TV series of all time and it only lasted 12 episodes with a two hour special capping things off.

The series started in 2001, dropped 6 episodes, then came back the next year for another 6 and then left fans hanging for a little over a year until they released the two hour Christmas special. The concept is similar to the American version in which a reality TV crew follows a group of officemates, focusing specifically on David, the obnoxious boss, Tim the everyman, Dawn the secretary and Gareth the office weirdo. David’s the kind of guy who doesn’t realize how out of touch he really is, while making uncomfortable jokes bordering on racism and sexism at various times. He also fancies himself a comedian, but his timing is awful.

Tim has a crush on Dawn who’s engaged to a brute of a fellow called Lee. Lee sucks, but then again he’s supposed to as you’re constantly rooting for Tim and Dawn to get together (he even asks her out twice with disastrous results). They’re really the big draw to the show, but it wouldn’t be what it is without Gareth who they often tag team to wind up.

At it’s heart The Office is a love story, though often of the unrequited sort as you root for Dawn to realize she’s making a huge mistake with Lee and run off with Tim so they can both go onto their dream jobs (Dawn wants to be an artist, Tim…well he doesn’t want to work at a paper company). Which brings up another soul-punching aspect of the show: growing up and what that can mean to your dreams. Both Dawn and Tim mention that they started their jobs at Wernham Hog to make some money and get a job while working on other things. Now it’s a few years later and they’re all still doing jobs that were supposed to be temporary. As someone in my 20s, I can really relate to the subject and I’m sure it’ll mean something completely different to me when I watch it again in 5 and 10 years.

I have to thank my good friend Rickey Purdin for turning me onto this version of The Office. When I moved out to NY and we moved in together I was watching the US version and he asked if I had seen the original (and not even in that pretentious way that a lot of people ask, even though he wasn’t a big fan of the US show at the time). I said I hadn’t even heard of it, but I was interested and within a few days we watched the whole thing in 2-3 days. It’s so funny on a moment to moment level that you get absorbed and the late hours don’t seem to matter as you move on to the next episode.

To fans of the UK version who got turned off by the US version’s first season, I have to say give it another shot. The first season of the US series was made up mostly of remakes of the original series, so it seems a little played out if you’ve seen the original. I hadn’t at the time, but its taken on such a life of its own (especially with the background characters) that it’s a completely different animal right now.

I’m not sure if this convinced anyone to really go out and rent or buy The Office box set (which I highly recommend), but I can’t recommend this show enough to anyone. I don’t think there’s anyone reading this blog that wouldn’t love The Office and very few people in the world who wouldn’t like it. In addition to the US version, there’s also Office TV series’ in Germany, France, Chile and Quebec, so it’s got a universal appeal. Also, if you’ve ever worked with other people, you can relate to some of the things on the show and Tim actually plays the pranks on his office nemesis that you want to (like putting his or her stapler in Jello or moving all of his possessions out of the office). Great stuff. Seriously, just go check it out.