The Truth About Lies (2015) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for sexual references and language
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast: Fran Kranz, Odette Annable, Miles Fisher, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Colleen Camp, Chris Diamantopolous, Zebedee Rowe, Adam David Thompson, Michael Guagno, Arthur J. Nascarella, Gemma Forbes
Director: Phil Allocco
Screenplay: Phil Allocco
Review published February 2, 2015
Fran Kranz (Much Ado About Nothing, The Cabin in the Woods) stars as Gilby Smalls, a thirty-something slacker who finds himself jobless on the same day his girlfriend (Ellis, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") dumps him, his apartment catches on fire, and he ends up having to move in with his free-spirit mother (Camp, American Hustle). After a series of rejections in job interviews and love, his best friend Kevin (Fisher, Superhero Movie) tells him he needs to give himself the appearance of a winner in order to win, which Gilby takes to mean to play up being a big-shot by spouting a flurry of lies whenever and wherever possible to look good.
At Kevin's family gathering, Gilby inadvertently tells Kevin's sister, Rachel (Annable, Cloverfield), that he's an entrepreneur in the world of computers, then is approached by Rachel's husband, Eric (Diamantopolous, Wedding Daze), to help out with his tech business while he's on a business trip to France. However, he's in way over his head in the position, and matters get even more tricky when he begins to fall for the married Rachel, who is likely not to take kindly to finding out Gilby has been untruthful from the get-go.
Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Phil Allocco, The Truth About Lies is a good-looking and well acted comedy that features some funny, farcical pieces, and certainly should put its talented creator on the map for future features down the road. Allocco not only scripts some funny dialogue, but gets the most out of a talented and energetic cast, and serves up just the right mood and tempo for a winning comedy, even though, in its initial concept, Allocco wasn't originally going to make it funny. But, as it plays out, it will remind some as a mix of Woody Allen (Kranz on occasion seems to be doing an impression), a Ben Stiller flick (embarrassing moments leading to slapstick), and TV's "The Office" (awkward conversational comedies where people try not to lose face, but end up insulting others).
The look of the film, lensed by Peter Mariuzza, is solid, and the score by the hip-hop's Beastie Boys' Adam Horovitz keeps the right tone for the farce playing out underneath. Plus, even without star power, it's a cast that really does work well together, and Kranz shows a real knack for physical comedy. Allocco has put together a solid team here -- all of the pieces of the puzzle have come together. And yet...
...for as much as I like all of the bits and pieces in the production of The Truth About Lies, I laughed less as the film ran on, bothered more by the thinly defined characters and what they do. It's hard to come away laughing after following folks who are all a bit too devil-may-care about their relationships and livelihoods. When supposedly likeable characters have blatant disregard for the feelings of their families and significant others, and who have no conscience about the repercussions other than what it might to to themselves, this film that once was built on the premise about lies and what they can do simply becomes an exercise in trying to generate laughs. Living without consequences can feel liberating, but someone always pays the price -- that other guy who needed a job that you lied to get, that marriage you destroyed when you got your ya-yas the the married gal, etc. It's funny when a liar or cheat screws up their own lives; it's not as funny when they have no regard that they're screwing up the lives of others unless there's a comeuppance.
If the object of your film-going experience is to just laugh at the foibles of shallow, flawed people inhabiting an extended sitcom episode, I'd be a liar if I didn't state that The Truth About Lies has enough amusing moments to likely appease most who choose not to look deeper than that. However, if the filmmakers dabble in philosophy to give us something deeper to think about -- i.e., 'the truth about lies', or even just the nature of relationships -- then that part of this movie seems to have been greatly reduced to near obsolescence for the sake of the farcical elements. In the end, we ultimately learn that the 'truth' is something we already know: 'Liars gonna lie', no matter what.
©2015 Vince Leo