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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Although the movie is all about introducing the concept of lying to the world, the end take-away is that the world can be a bleak place if you don't have faith in yourself and in the future. The movie also makes the point that it isn't necessary to say everything you think -- that there are times when telling the truth can be hurtful and unkind. A relationship based on outward appearances and superficial qualities ultimately proves to be unsatisfying and demeaning.
Positive Role Models
Even though he sometimes uses the concept of lying for personal/petty gain, ultimately the main character most often lies in order to help people who are hurt, afraid, or feel hopeless. At a crucial point in the story, he faces a dilemma and must choose between an easy lie or a difficult truth. The kind-hearted leading lady learns to value more than good looks and outward charm.
Violence & Scariness
A law enforcement officer roughly pulls a driver out of a car. Some boys pick on an overweight child and push an ice cream cone in his face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Other than a brief kiss, there's no visual sexual activity, but the characters talk about it often ("I'm not going to sleep with him," "touch boobies," "have sex with them," "it arouses me"), and there are a number of references to masturbation. A coupon is presented for "birthday sex," a sign advertising a motel reads: "A cheap hotel for intercourse with a stranger," the main character tests out the idea of lying by propositioning a beautiful woman, etc.
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Occasional obscenities and use of derogatory terms, including: "f--k," "s--t," "manbitch," "crap," "prick," "boobies," "bastard," "faggot," "queer," and "douchebag."
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Products & Purchases
Plenty of in-your-face product placement throughout: Characters drink Budweiser beer in many scenes; other brands/products include Moet Champagne, Craigslist, and Pizza Hut. Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola advertisements are parodied in several sequences.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcoholic beverages are consumed in many scenes: wine, champagne, whiskey. Beer drinking is particularly pervasive. In some sequences, drinking is used to self-medicate for depression and hopelessness. Two characters are shown getting drunk in a bar; one then drives a car unsteadily, weaving across the road for comic effect. One character declares that he's spent the night "throwing up pain killers," while another refers to his own "cocaine habit."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Invention of Lying is, like most of star Ricky Gervais' humor, irreverent and edgy (though also thought provoking). Nothing is sacred -- including religion (in the movie, the concept of God, aka "The Man in the Sky," is one of the lies that the main character invents). There's no sex on screen, but there's lots of talk about it -- including masturbation references, propositions, use of words like "boobies," etc. Expect a fair bit of salty language, from name-calling ("prick," "bastard," "faggot," "manbitch") to infrequent use of "f--k" and "s--t." Characters drink beer, wine, champagne, and whiskey; there's some drunkenness, and a man is shown driving while intoxicated. Lots of commercial products are shown on screen, with some showing up in scene after scene. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a movie that may turn out to be richer and more fun with each viewing. Amid the clever, witty dialogue, funny situations, and sneakily amusing riffs on some of our most treasured icons (moviemaking, advertising, the good-looking guy), it's surprising to realize that The Invention of Lying isn't just another "one joke" comedy. Gervais and Robinson had more in mind: They tackled some pretty heady concepts (death, faith, religion, and more) while using a very gentle hand -- along with the humor -- to make their points ... or at least to get the audience to think about what they've seen.
The movie includes many delightful, unexpected cameo appearances (watch for Ed Norton behind aviator sunglasses), and the supporting actors (including Jonah Hill, Jeffrey Tambor, Tina Fey, and Rob Lowe) are all very funny, though not much is demanded of them beyond playing one-dimensional caricatures that serve the leads. Gervais, as expected, is terrific as the Everyman, and Garner is very impressive as a comedienne. Their scenes together are wonderful examples of good timing, good chemistry, and two people having great fun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.