||Take time to appreciate it, because right now we're in the midst of a strong era for screen comedy, with filmmakers pushing limits, bending genres and using comedy to advance serious ideas. The newest installment in this trend is The Invention of Lying, in which Ricky Gervais, instead of resting on formula and on a familiar persona, uses his first opportunity as a big-screen actor-director to make an original comedy that expresses some real thinking and feeling...The Invention of Lying, in addition to being very funny and inventive, is an attempt at a genuine statement about life, social discourse and morality. Ultimately, Gervais may bite off more than he can chew, but this movie shows he's going for the brass ring. First time out of the box, he's heading into Woody Allen territory...Onscreen, Gervais has something Jackie Gleason had: His eyes are rarely involved in the comedy. His eyes are fixed rather on the serious intention or emotion underlying the comedy. This weighty mental quality allows him to segue seamlessly from comic high jinks to drama. For example, he has a tearful breakdown in "The Invention of Lying" that eschews any sense of laugh-clown-laugh self-indulgence. It plays simply like the organic unfolding of the character...Jennifer Garner has never been better onscreen. Usually consigned to roles in which she's either blandly nice or some ridiculous superhero, Garner gets to show a comic facility we haven't seen before. She is both poignant and absurd, trying to keep up with a man whose lies give him an aura of brilliance and originality. The cast is rounded out nicely with some good comic actors in smaller roles (Louis C.K., Jonah Hill, Tina Fey) and cameos (Christopher Guest, Edward Norton). Together they give the sense of a community coming out to launch Gervais on his new venture...Consider him launched.