He’s the man you love to hate….David Brent I mean (though some will argue Ricky Gervais himself also fits this description!). King of the cringe David Brent is back, but this time on the big screen.
Fifteen years on from THE OFFICE’s original release on BBC Two, comes DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD. No longer an office manager, Brent is working that cringe-worthy smile by “repping”; selling cleaning, and ladies personal hygiene, products up and down the country. Yet Brent hasn’t given up his dream of becoming a rock star. He assembles a group of mercenary session musicians, a talented sidekick for street cred and an overpriced (yet underwhelmed) tour manager, and embarks upon a self-financed UK tour….with documentary crew in tow.
I have never felt so uncomfortable watching telly as I did the first time I suffered through THE OFFICE. The first three episodes in particular were torture; watching this socially inept, self-destructive idiot make more and more of a fool of himself as the cameras recorded every excruciating minute.
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying: It’s quality characterisation and superb writing that has stood the test of time….needless to say my hand shot up at the chance to attend the Perth preview screening. I was intrigued to discover how Gervais sees Brent as he approaches middle age.
I think it’s fair to say Brent has mellowed a little in his “old age”. While still oozing awkwardness and inappropriateness, Brent is undeniably more likeable in this film version – he’s more pitiful. Some may accuse Gervais of softening Brent in order to appeal to a wider cinematic audience, yet I say it is a welcome (and arguably realistic) character developmental arc.
As a fan of Gervais’s work, I see him whipping out his standard formula here. There are few surprises in terms of plot development, but this meandering feel is similar to THE OFFICE and not unexpected.
It’s still funny and that’s what counts.
The soundtrack is hilarious, littered with awful (yet frighteningly catchy!) tunes written by Brent himself.
Gervais’ token improvisational acting, writing and directing style keeps the comedy fresh.
There’s two things Gervais does well: Cringe and “warm and fuzzy”. DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD has this in spades (there was a collective “Awwww!” from the audience at the final shot). It’s a film that can be equally enjoyed by those familiar with THE OFFICE, and those who’ve never seen the series.
I rate it 7 stars.