David Brent: Life on the Road, 2016.
Directed by Ricky Gervais.
Starring Ricky Gervais, Doc Brown, Abbie Murphy, Mandeep Dhillon, Tom Bennett, Tom Basden and Jo Hartley.
A camera crew catches up with David Brent, the former star of the fictional British TV series The Office, as he now fancies himself a rockstar on the road.
As soon as it was announced that David Brent was being taken to the big screen, my gut reaction was that his wince-inducing style would be too much to handle in a feature length film. Whilst David Brent: Life on the Road isn’t a perfect film by any stretch, it isn’t the cringey mess that I was expecting it to be.
A documentary crew are catching up with The Office star David Brent as he begins his tour with his rock band Foregone Conclusion. Brent is as tragic as we remember except now he’s been downgraded to a rep and is embarking on his tour of Berkshire with a group of musicians that don’t like him and are just being paid to go on tour with him. There are some excruciating scenes to sit through with the pathetic Brent trying to make conversation and be one of the “lads” to the dad dancing performances, casual racism and his general inability to interact like a human being around women.
There are moments of sublime comedic brilliance in this film that almost puts you back to the brilliance of the original sitcom. Gervais slips right back into Brent’s skin with his uncomfortable laugh, sharp intakes of breath and that look he gets on his face when he knows that he’s gone too far. He feels like a real character and it is nice to catch up with him and see him continuing with his dream. There are some great lines throughout and in particular Doc Brown as band rapper Dom Johnson is a real highlight. He’s a comedic talent to watch and his dead pan delivery is spot on and he’s a good compliment to Brent.
What is missing is the strong supporting characters that we had in the sitcom. Other than Doc Brown none of the other band members make much of an impact. They’re simply there to look uncomfortable and say slightly mean things about Brent. An attempt at a new Gareth in the form of co-worker Nigel (Bennett) adds no value and just made me nostalgic to revisit the original series. The mockumentary format also doesn’t work as well this time round. During the gig scenes the format seems to disappear completely and is slightly jarring. Speaking of which the gig scenes go on for far too long and as enjoyable as it is to listen to his appalling songs, watching him make a tit out of himself for a third of the movie gets quite repetitive.
Like the original finale which will go down in history as one of the best ever, the ending of Life on the Road is touching and surprisingly heart-warming to watch. Brent will always be a loser, but he pursues his dreams and gives it his all. There are some understated and sweet moments at the end of the film that made me realise how good a writer Ricky Gervais is and just how tragic and loveable his creation is.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★