DVD Review - The Lie

Joshua Leonard burst onto the scene in The Blair Witch Project (1999). He was in HBO's Live from Baghdad (2000) and he did some other things before hitting a lull. He got back on the radar for me when he co-starred opposite Mark Duplass in Humpday (2009). Duplass is an actor and independent filmmaker who has made quite a name for himself. Leonard is seemingly on the same path, the right path, with his directorial debut here, this latest effort, which he co-wrote and starred.

In 2008, T. Coraghessan Boyle had his short story "The Lie" published in The New Yorker magazine. Leonard and his fellow actors, Jess Weixler and Mark Webber, along with Jeff Feuerzeig, adapted that story into a romantic comedy that uses the convention that all romantic comedies use but does so in such a genuine and authentic way that it makes the movie funnier and richer an experience.

Joshua Leonard plays Lonnie, a video editor. Jess Weixler plays his wife, Clover. The two of them have a newborn named Xana. Things aren't going well for Lonnie. The movie opens with him in therapy. His work seems to be not exciting to him. He has a passion for music but his output has not been great. In fact, it's been literally and figuratively "a soul crusher."

The only thing at which he's good is being a father, which makes things odd when, in order to get out of work and get out of his soul-crushing life, he invents a lie that makes people think he's not a father any more. A large chunk of comedy is then built on this lie.

So many romantic comedies are built on a premise where somebody lies about something and all the humor flows from that person trying to make sure other people don't learn the truth. One example is the Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds film The Proposal. Other classic examples include Tootsie (1984) and The Birdcage (1995).

Most of these lie-based comedies are so over-the-top in the hoops through which the characters have to jump that those movies become more about delaying the truth-reveal as long as possible and continuously upping the ante often to the point of ridiculousness. What's refreshing about this movie is that it doesn't do that. It doesn't up the ante or make the characters jump through a ton of hoops. Some might find that boring, but to me it's more real. It's also short and sweet.

It's almost perfect in that it builds to a moment, a moment that's very quiet. Yet, it's very funny. It had me laughing the most. That moment involves Lonnie and Clover facing off and the two actors perform it so well. It's such an anxious and sad moment as well, but the actors make it work brilliantly.

The DVD features a bonus that has all the actors doing a mockumentary in the style of E! True Hollywood Story. It's centered around the actress who plays Xana, Violent Long who was a baby during the filming of the movie and who is now a toddler. It depicts Long out as a burnt-out, young diva not unlike Lindsay Lohan. It's hilarious.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for drug use and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 20 mins.


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