In the world of this debut effort from Ricky Gervais (he shares the directing with Matthew Robinson), there are no movies. There’s only Lecture Films, a studio that produces pictures in which actors read from accounts of historical events. Filmmaking, after all, is a form of lying.
In this world (which looks a lot like Lowell), truth is all there is: cola is advertised with the slogan “Coke: It’s Very Famous,” and a nursing home is called “A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People.” One day, however, Gervais’s schlubby character tells a fib about some money. Then he tells a taller tale about what happens after we die. Suddenly, the world is his oyster. Until things get complicated.
Gervais has put together a top-notch cast (Jennifer Garner, Louis C.K., Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Rob Lowe), and for a while his script is sharp, funny, and inventive. Too bad the last third of the movie devolves into formulaic rom-com, demonstrating that lies are at least more truthful than clichés.