Starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis CK, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, Jeffrey Tambor, Fionnula Flanagan, Stephanie March, Christopher Guest, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jason Bateman.
Directed by Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson.
Saw this at the $2 theater. Used to be the $1 theater, but in today's economy...
Ricky Gervais (BBC's The Office) is a great writer and funny actor. As a co-director, meh...
The clever high-concept premise is to introduce a world where no human being ever has told a lie. They not only always tell the truth, but they also share whatever's on their mind at that moment. Also in this world, atheism is the true religion, which seems to make everyone calloused and shallow. I know the intent of the makers is to ridicule belief in God, but they wind up sabotaging their own point. And why is this the point of what is ultimately a rom-com?
Gervais is the star, a screenwriter named Mark Bellison. How can there be movies in the future? Since everyone always tells the truth, no one can act or write fiction, so movies solely consist of charismatic readers reading history to the audience. (There are some funny commercials too.) Mark finds himself fired and on the verge of eviction when something in his brain clicks. He tells a lie at the bank to withdraw more money than he actually has. He has a new power.
Kudos to the cast and the writers for the first half. Pretty enjoyable. Then Mark sits at his mother's side as she is dying, and she is afraid of disappearing into an eternity of nothingness. So Mark, to bring her comfort, assures her there is life after death. The medical staff overhears, and Mark's fame quickly spreads.
So for the next half-hour or so, the movie hammers its point on how silly religion, particularly Christianity, is. And yet this is a world with no philanthropy and ugly people should just commit suicide. If emphasis is placed so highly on genetic appearance, it makes me wonder what eugenics or genocidal issues this universe has.
I laughed enough early on that I want to overlook its agenda, the weakest part of the film. I also go back to his directing style. 95% of the camera angles are close-ups on whoever's speaking, which doesn't give the film enough organic flow. So I guess I enjoyed the first half of the movie, before the wheels came off.