A film that not many have heard about, but everyone will be forced to relate to.
When I first heard the plot of this film, I was already sold; not specifically because of the story, but the man behind it. The film's writer, director, and lead actor is Ricky Gervais - arguably the funniest man in entertainment. For those who haven't heard of him for some reason, he is responsible for creating the original The Office series (2001-03) in the UK, as well as Extras (2005-07), another brilliantly written comedy. He also happens to be a widely famous comedian, who gets a royalty check for every episode of the american version of The Office.
Back to the film. Once the first trailers were out I was quite impressed with the look and apparent storyline - in a alternate reality, where no human being has ever lied, one man (Gervais) accidentally finds himself to be the speaker of the first ever lie. Seemed funny enough, and it was supported by a great comedic cast. But it bombed at the box office. Why? I had to wait until the film came out on dvd to find out (since it was an independent film its stay at the theaters wasn't long). The first half hour was exactly as I expected, which was pretty much what the trailers had indicated. Still, knowing Gervais' style of humor, I noticed that he had paid a lot of attention to detail to background story elements in his alternate reality. It wasn't until after the protagonist realizes that he can lie, and therefore do anything he wants, that the film began to take an unexpected turn.
The remaining hour was pure screenwriting gold. The humor was top-notch of course, but it was the message within the satirical context that truly makes this film one of the most important films in history. Gervais, in about a 100 minutes, summed up human existence to this day, and then went on to demonstrate why we do what we do.
By this time one doesn't see the film as a comedy - something I'd blame the distribution studio's marketing team for misleading trailers (something I'd mentioned before with Fight Club).The goal of the film was self-reflection - which eventually led to its downfall in the general public. But I believe Gervais probably expected that to happen (he seems to know his audience pretty well). Perhaps he knew that the general movie-going audience doesn't want to be told its stupid for believing in anything. I'd argue that that wasn't the message - and that the real message of the film was that it is important to think about why we believe in things in the first place, and then any choice we make regarding that belief is for our own inner-satisfaction - but a message like that cannot be expected to be accepted by the majority. Tag along the fact that Gervais is known to be an atheist, and along with the content its safe to say the film wasn't the first choice for (religious) family movie nights.
Obviously my analysis of the film is only understandable once its been seen. So its safe to say I am a huge fan of Gervais and this film, and would recommend anything the man makes. Also from what I've observed the film seems to be doing pretty well in dvd rentals, thanks to word-of-mouth, the most trusted form of marketing. While the film may not reach the cult status of Fight Club, I still believe it may get its due in the coming years, and finally be seen as an attempt to bring humor to mankind's apparent lack of purpose.