I’m torn with Ricky Gervais; his podcast is the soundtrack I listen to while I’m at work, which is one of the funniest audio experiences I’ve ever had. His TV shows are critically acclaimed and equally hilarious, yet somehow his movies always seem to miss the mark. So what happens when Ricky turns his most famous work The Office into a follow up feature length mockumentary? This is David Brent; Life on the Road, a story of one delusional loveable idiot having a crack at fame.
David Brent is the most awkward character on TV, usually due to his own devices. His lack of social decorum, accidental ‘faux pas’ and that puppy dogface made him a household name. This translates comfortably into a feature length, and with an MA15+ rating adds more edgy situational humour, with some swearing and expectedly offensive jokes, that surprisingly all land quite well.
On the smallest scale and funniest way possible, Brent takes leave from his salesman job to go on tour to try and get signed as a musician. He spends all his money plus more on the façade of a tour bus, backing band, sound engineer etc. Gervais used to be in a band in the ‘80s himself – so the realism shines through with the humour. Of course along the way he succeeds only in annoying everyone around him, digging himself social trenches and overall self sabotaging any chance he has of truly succeeding – and it is all a masterful train wreck to watch.
As a fan of The Office TV series, I feel that it was my duty to check out this film, I must have been the only one – having the entire cinema to myself. I wondered why this movie hasn’t got the fanfare it should, is the movie out 5 or 10 years too late? Perhaps the other reason could be that it is a glorified hour-and-a-half episode, which is to be expected but it makes the shtick run dry and soon the awkward, cringy scenes become redundant and lose their edge, and it proliferates the longer the film goes on.
All things considered though, in a cinema by myself I was in fits of the giggles more than once; the plot had a beginning middle and end, and the characters intentions and development are clear. Additionally, there are actually a few emotional scenes that stick with some gravitas, and really establish a core theme and message to the film, which was probably the biggest shock of the whole movie
So for David Brent, a film with probably a tenth of the budget of anything released in recent months and a shooting schedule and crew even less so, somehow it is the best movie to have come out in recent memory.