Director: Ricky Gervais
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith, Jo Hartley, Tom Bennett, Mandeep Dhillon, Oliver Maltman, Alexander Arnold
Written by: Ricky Gervais
Running Time: 96 mins
Release date: 19th August 2016
After the disaster that was Absolutely Fabulous The Movie, I was hoping and praying that David Brent: Life Of The Road was going to be more like Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa than the aforementioned Jennifer Saunders flop. Thankfully, it’s a film that is more of a catch up withThe Office star than a film crammed with pointless cameos and dated jokes. It does have all those cringing moments you expect from the man who just doesn’t know when to stop.
Years after leaving the paper business, a film crew catches up on David Brent, now a sales rep for toiletries, who is embarking on his first tour with his band, Foregone Conclusion, in the hope of capturing his dreams and being a success. The venture, paid out of Brent’s own pocket, sees him with a band who refuse to talk to him and a rapper who is made to look a fool, all in the vein hope that one day, David will become a star.
Ricky Gervais’s creation is a living nightmare. A man without a clue, who thinks that he is funny and entertaining and yet doesn’t seem to have a filter, so everything that comes out of his mouth is offensive, all the while he feels it’s just innocent fun. He’s like a child wanting to please and yet failing to do so. Thankfully, Gervais hasn’t changed anything in Brent’s characteristics. He hasn’t grown up, matured or even finally clicked that he’s being offensive or annoying.
Even the environment he moves hasn’t altered much either. Being a sales rep for toiletries allows Brent to shock with inappropriate sexual innuendos and comments that make you cover your face in embarrassment. Where Gervais is tried to broaden Brent’s world is by putting him on tour with a band. Not quite making him a fish out of water, as most TV spin-offs do, but close enough.
This is where the film does falter in places. Brent’s egotistic approach to stardom, making him the front man of a band that are only doing it for the money he’s paying them, often comes across more sad than comic. The four musicians and a sound man don’t seem to mind taking his hard earned cash but then ridicule him, even refusing to have him on the giant tour bus that he paid for. Suddenly the emphasis makes Brent come across like the little boy who no one talked to at school, and yet he doesn’t realise it.
What is also missing here is the other characters that you cared for. InThe Office, Brent wasn’t the sole focus/ You had the likes of Gareth and Tim, who often would sympathise with Brent while having their own storylines to allow audiences time away from Brent’s antics. We do have Dom, brilliantly played by Ben Bailey Smith, a rapper who believed that Brent could take him to bigger and better things but just uses him, often to show that he can be diverse, while still being offensive about it. There’s also a secret admiration from an accountant at the new office that only really comes into effect near the end of the movie.
Yet all the while, Brent continues to be naive about his ideas of fame and his ideas of humour and trying to make people like him. It is the moments when Brent is in situations where he thinks he is being the life and soul of the party that the comedy works best. Even some of the songs are so horrific, you just want him to stop. A song about disability being the worst. Although it is the scenes where the band is playing to one empty house after another that do become a little repetitive.
David Brent: Life On The Road isn’t a car crash like most TV spin-offs. It does struggle with its feature-length running time but there are enough comedy moments that work to valid the movie status and Brent can be even more offensive than on TV. It is good to have the monstrosity back but now I think it’s time to leave him where he is.