Oh, what a blow for Christian fans of Ricky Gervais. It's not that we expect him to extol our faith, which he clearly does not share. But to use his new movie, The Invention of Lying, to take such mean, ignorant aim at us without troubling to gain even an inch-deep understanding of our beliefs . . . I'm not going to lie, it hurts.
The Invention of Lying, which Gervais wrote, directed, and stars in, is only a comedy for about 20 minutes. The rest is an atheistic treatise mocking anyone who believes there is a God and that He imposed a moral order on the world.
Gervais plays Mark, a man living in an alternate universe where not only is lying nonexistent, everyone is apparently under orders to broadcast disgusting and/or hurtful personal information. To wit: When he arrives early to pick up the beautiful Anna (Jennifer Garner) for a date, she informs him that he interrupted her masturbating (it is such explicit sexual dialogue that earns the movie a PG-13 rating.)
But soon Mark discovers that if he says things that aren't true, he can use them to get things he wants. He can also use them to comfort people, as he does when he tells his scared, dying mother that she isn't going into an "eternity of nothingness" but a place of eternal happiness. Once Mark lets this supposed "lie" into the world, everything changes and he becomes a kind of Christ-figure, carrying what he considers a fantasy to the masses. He even uses a couple of pizza boxes as tablets on which to give everyone new rules for living.
While Gervais is developing a world that contains no untruths (i.e., "Buy Coke, It's Very Famous," or "Pepsi: For When There Isn't Any Coke"), he maintains his record of hilarity. But when that narrative is pushed aside for a shallow critique of religious faith, Gervais' agenda of unbelief becomes (as almost all agendas are) profoundly unfunny.