David Brent: Life on the Road is the latest cinematic effort from controversial comedian Ricky Gervais. The controversial comedian, whose brash and unflinching sense of comedy has proven very divisive over the years, originally broke out with the BBC2 sit-com The Office, and has had many more hit TV series over the years, such as sitcoms Extras and Derek, and a whole raft of documentary and conversational shows featuring his friend Karl Pilkington. But he’s always struggled to translate that particular brand across to film, with many of his efforts proving quite middling.
David Brent: Life on the Road changes that trend.
The film is the continuation of the character of David Brent, the lead role from The Office who is currently working as a sales rep for a cleaning company, whilst simultaneously organizing a grand tour for his band, Forgone Conclusions Mk II, where he plans to finally earn what he sees as his rightful place amongst the rock gods like Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Sting. Along for the ride is Dom Johnson, an aspiring rapper who joined Brent’s band thinking Brent was a manager, and is now stuck rapping lines in Brent’s songs, as well as a whole raft of (paid) session musicians.
The film is very much a showcase for Gervais, who has by far the largest role as well as writer and director credits, but there are some standout supporting roles that deserve a mention. In particular, Tom Bennett appears as Nigel, the dim-witted sales rep with an office next to Brent. You may remember that Tom Bennett was, for me, one of the stand outs of the recent Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship, and once again he proves himself an expert at portraying a complete dunce. Hopefully these small roles in small movies help him get larger roles, as I’d like to see more of his work. Also a standout was Ben Bailey Smith, better known by his rap alter-ego Doc Brown (I know!), who played Dom Johnson.
Overall, this movie I think worked quite well because it was in the mockumentary style that Gervais has mastered so well. Like The Office and Derek, Life on the Road is able to ground the ridiculous characters and scenarios to something that feels real and offers Gervais the opportunity to add emotional moments to the awkward humour. It’s a style that just suits Gervais’ writing very well, and gives it a life that some of his other films such as The Invention of Lying and Special Correspondents.
It also works into Gervais’ mantra of “write what you know”. He’s spoken publicly about that approach to his work, and he’s drawn on his experiences in office work, in show business and seeing his relatives in nursing homes in the past, to great effect. So, it only seemed natural that David Brent’s return would see Gervais draw on another part of his life – the desire to be a pop star – and incorporate that so seamlessly into his most iconic character.
Because, you know, this happened. The 80’s, man, what a time.
It even contains a whole lot of original music written by Gervais and Andy Burrows, that feature such cringe-worthy songs as “Native Americans”, “Please Don’t Make Fun of the Disableds” and “Slough”, a factually accurate anthem for the British town of the same name.
But all of this pompous critical dissecting that I just wasted a few hundred words on doesn’t really matter in the long run. This isn’t Stanley Kurbrik, it is a straight comedy. And the only really relevent question is this? Is it funny? And the answer is yes, it’s the 2nd funniest movie I’ve seen all year. Does it answer any grand questions or bring up anything new that we’ve never learned before? No. But it’s a movie about David Brent. To be too deep and meaningful would be doing the character a disservice. This is still the same David Brent that once listed the world’s 3 biggest geniuses as Milligan, Cleese, Everett and Sessions.
Go and see this film.
4.6/5 – A very solid and very funny revisiting of a classic comedy character.
ADDITIONAL MOVIE NEWS:
- Actor Gene Wilder, known for The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and the title role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s at age 83. The actor and comic had been retired from Hollywood for quite some time, but remains one of it’s most iconic figures, and may he RIP.
- Plot details have emerged for next year’s blockbuster hit Transformers: The Last Knight. Apparently this time there’s an exciting plot that focuses around a gift given to Optimus Prime by Merlin, and ties into the Arthurian legend. It still sounds stupid, so I’ll stay home and watch the film with the best King Arthur.
Pictured: The best King Arthur. Even if I didn’t vote for him
- Very quickly, think of which movie from your childhood demands a sequel. Go on, think of it. You got it? Great! Were you thinking of the Robin Williams classic Jumanji? No? Well, tough, you’re getting it anyway. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson confirmed that he would be starring in the sequel film on Instagram, and he will be co-starring with Kevin Hart and Jack Black. The Rock Punches A Rhino While People Say Funny Things opens next June.
- Ever since the release of Taken, Liam Neeson has continued to churn out serviceable action movies on a regular basis. The latest of these has been announced with The Commuter, featuring Neeson involved in a mystery on a train and co-starring Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring) and Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring. As well). Demons on a Train is coming soon.
- One of the year’s most baffling hit movies is The Angry Birds Movie. And I say baffling not because it was a particularly complex film, but because it had no business being a hit. The film, based on a mobile app that was very popular 5 years ago, made enough money to make a sequel. So, yeah, hooray. I wonder what it could be based on.
- Bad boys, bad boy, whatch’ya gonna do? Whatcha’ya gonna do when they come for you….. with a buddy cop comedy movie based off the reality TV show Cops? Well, I guess you go and see it and hope for the best? Ruben Fleischer is reported to be directing it, who previously directed Zombieland, so it should be goo- oh, he also directed Gangster Squad. Never mind.