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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 14, 2009 at 4:55 AM

At TIFF: Ricky Gervais does some “Lying”

TORONTO — “The Invention of Lying” is about 40 minutes of a terrific comedy; unfortunately, it then goes on for another hour. Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, it’s got a funny concept: Gervais plays a writer in a world in which nobody lies, and the truth is blurted out at every turn. (A waiter, handing out drinks: “I took a little sip of that one.” An ad for Pepsi: “When they don’t have Coke.”) It’s great fun for a while, then Gervais and Robinson get a little lost in the satire, which too soon goes soft. “The Invention of Lying” is certainly better than most Hollywood comedies, and the cast is a kick, but you watch it wondering what a few more drafts of the screenplay might have wrought.
Speaking of lying, there’s a fair bit of it going on here, and I’m not just talking about the press conferences. (George Clooney, asked why he doesn’t have a Facebook page: “I would rather have a prostate exam. On live television. By a guy with very cold hands.”) No, there’s a fellow press member who’s sat in front of me in screenings a few times who has a system worked out: He drops his bag on the seat next to him, then coolly tells everyone who asks that the seat is occupied. (I guess, when you really think about it, that’s not a lie.) TIFF press screenings tend to be very crowded, with people having to sit in the front row, but this guy seems determined to maintain personal space. I was fairly appalled by this, because it’s Just Wrong, until yesterday in a screening, a different guy one row ahead of me cheerfully moved his bag (on the seat directly in front of me) and welcomed a really tall guy with sticky-uppy hair into the seat. So I watched “The Invention of Lying” as if peering around a hairy totem pole, and was irritated no end. Funny how morality and self-interest are often intertwined, even at a film festival.
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(Photo: George Clooney at TIFF; AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

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