Australian Council on Children and the Media

Invention of Lying, The

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Sexual references, language, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Invention of Lying, The
  • a review of Invention of Lying, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 November 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to lack of interest, sexual references, coarse language and themes
Children 13-14 Parental guidance recommended due to sexual references, coarse language and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Invention of Lying, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Sexual references and coarse language
Length 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) lives in a world where no one is able to lie. He works as a  scriptwriter for a movie producer who makes very dull, unembellished documentaries,  and is attracted to Anna (Jennifer Garner). Anna, unfortunately, is not attracted to Mark and sees him as a bad genetic match for any future children. Mark loses his job and his life goes rapidly downhill. With no way out, Mark invents a lie for his own personal gain. He actually sees lying as a good thing and uses it to help people who are down and out.

When he sees his Mother dying and very afraid, Mark invents an afterlife, which is an idyllic place for her to go to. This story spreads rapidly and Mark develops it further into a belief in the Man in the Sky, a God like character. Mark is seen as a prophet, chosen by the Man in the Sky, to tell people about the rewards of living a good life.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Lying; suicide; mockery of religion

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including a policeman violently pulling a man, who has been drink driving, out of his car and throwing him to the ground.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

It is unlikely that children under the age of five would be scared by anything in this movie, but it will mostly lack interest for children in this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

It is unlikely that children aged 5-8 would be scared by anything in this movie, but it will mostly lack interest for children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • One of Mark’s colleagues, Frank, has suicidal tendencies and is always talking about it.
  • The old people’s home is a very depressing place where everyone is very miserable, waiting to die.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • One of Mark’s colleagues, Frank, has suicidal tendencies and is always talking about it.
  • The old people’s home is a very depressing place where everyone is very miserable, waiting to die.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Coke
  • Pepsi
  • Pizza Hut
  • Budweiser

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • very open talk about sex and masturbation
  • a man’s wish is to ‘touch girls’ boobies’ or have sex.
  • a motel has the sign ‘for intercourse with strangers’ hanging outside.
  • Mark tells a woman the world will end unless she has sex with him.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • the policeman has a cocaine habit
  • a lot of drinking in various scenes, restaurants, bars, at home, and includes a scene where a man drives a car after drinking too much.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • fuck
  • bastard
  • prick

In a nutshell

The Invention of Lying is an irreverent, cynical movie, which sends mixed messages about lying in that it can be used for good purposes, while telling the truth can be hurtful. The movie is based on an interesting idea, but fails to live up to its potential.

The main messages from this movie are that white lies are sometimes necessary to avoid hurting peoples’ feelings and that telling the truth doesn’t mean speaking the first thing that comes to mind. The movie also makes the point that a person’s character is worth more than their looks.

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of their own beliefs and faith.

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