Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for David Brent: Life on the Road, with links below if you want to find out more.
I can’t imagine that anyone who isn’t already a fan of Ricky Gervais and his seminal David Brent character will have their mind changed by this movie, and fans will recognise a lot of the hit-points done before (and better) from ‘The Office’. Still, despite feeling like a TV special it is a diverting enough way to revisit Brent for a low-key road trip.
I am a fan of Gervais’ sitcoms, but I rarely find that they make me guffaw heartily. It’s more like coming home from work with a funny story about something that happened to somebody else, but you didn’t laugh at the time due to embarrassment, awkwardness, shame, or all three.
This film is much the same, with the odd pun thrown in for those who were perhaps new to the Gervais brand. But even as a fan, it never tops the hit-parade of classic moments from ‘The Office’, which does leave you wondering what he hoped to achieve with this resurrection. That said, it doesn’t fail to be funny, it just doesn’t make the top-ten ‘Brent’ at any point.
I will never forgive Gervais for what he did to my tear-ducts with his last sitcom series ‘Derek’. I blubbed every episode and I don’t mind admitting it. In David Brent LOTR I barely sniffed, mainly because there wasn’t a great deal to sniff at, and what there was, had been done better in ‘The Office’ (once again) with maybe one slightly touching exception. Maybe he was pitching it for a new audience who aren’t aware of the TV phenomenon that went before, but that seems unlikely.
Perhaps the reason that the laughs and tears didn’t flow so much was because he had to introduce a whole set of new characters who, while strangely familiar in their architypes, were not the faces we were used to. We had time to get to know and love the ensemble from ‘The Office’ who were just as big a part of the success as David Brent, but here it seems a little forced and formulaic with the supporting cast of his new workplace (when he’s not out on the road that is…).
In many ways, it’s good that the film doesn’t ever get too big or overblown and make you jump ‘n holler: it wouldn’t have been befitting of the style or legacy, and the fact is feels like a long TV special reflects that. However, he does manage a little ‘go on Brent!’ type feeling, but nothing like the last episode of Series 2 when he finally tells Finch to F-off.
No scares here, unless you’re phobic to Premier Inn’s.
Bonus Category: Thank you for the music +2
We all know that Gervais himself was a wannabe rock-star in the 80s (don’t we?), and even when he’s playing them for laughs, I still fancy you can hear a little longing in his voice for someone to tell him how good he is. Well, it’s unlikely he will ever read this, but he is a good musician, and singer. The band in the film and soundtrack are good too, as is rapper Doc Brown, and as a musician myself, it’s good to hear the effort going in, even when it’s just for a funny little film (well, funny-ish).
(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)
Like my blog? Please consider sharing this article on social media to spread the word, or by checking out my books advertised in the sidebar, or both, ideally. Thanks for reading!
Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…