I’m still ruminating over The Invention of Lying, Ricky Gervais’ new comedy. I saw it last night and it was, um, not quite what I expected.
Let me just say this up front: I like Gervais. I think he’s one of the funniest guys in show business. He’s also an outspoken, committed atheist, and Lying (which he co-wrote) suggests religion is the biggest lie of them all. That made the film pretty hard for me to watch at times, and in fact I thought it was a far more serious assault on religion in general (and Christianity in particular) because it’s–well, funny.
Once the movie officially released, you can check out my review on our main site to get the full low-down. But in this space, I just wanted to offer this:
We Christians often say that our beliefs and values aren’t fairly represented in the films we see. And that’s true. Frankly, filmmakers have often been reluctant to take on religion at all–fearing a backlash at the box office, if nothing else. But as our nation slowly grows both more pluralistic and more secular, we may see more and more films like Lying–films that more fully express a filmmaker’s own belief structure and outlook on life. And, as those films find acceptance, movie studios will be more apt to fund such projects and put them on screen.
While I’m unlikely to be a fan of such movies, I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with moviemakers making movies that are important to them. It’s their right to make them (or not), just as it’s our right to see them (or not). But it does underline the need, in my mind, to encourage and foster a new generation of talented, Christian filmmakers — filmmakers with all the gifts, skills and savvy to compete in this highly competitive world: Filmmakers who don’t just make movies for Christians, but for movie-lovers, too. One day, I’d love to see a film with a smashmouth screenplay fronted by a gifted comedian that tells us–all of us–that Christianity might not be such a lie, after all.