12/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Movie Review: The Invention of Lying

Ricky Gervais is such a funny human being that I held out huge hope for The Invention of Lying, even after seeing a trailer that made it feel like an impossibly one-joke outing.

After all, the original Office is essentially a one-joke concept - and Extras was one joke, expanded into two. They rank as some of the funniest television ever created. So I'll never sell Gervais short; he always makes me laugh.

The problem of The Invention of Lying isn't the single joke - it's the lack of others to flesh it out - and, worse, a lack of comic focus. Gervais and co-writer/director Matthew Robinson create one premise, then seem to shift to something else - and then to something else again. But the conceptual problems are less troubling than the essential shortage of laughs.

The set-up seems simple enough: Gervais and Robinson create a world in which people only tell the truth. No one can tell a lie; no one even knows what a lie is or can imagine "saying something that isn't."

Their spin on it, however, is not just that people only tell the truth - they offer it relentlessly and compulsively.

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