David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)

I will preface this review with an important point. I have never found Ricky Gervais to be particularly funny or add any value to the comic circuit. I went into this viewing with low expectations. I didn’t expect to be as disappointed as I was, even by my own low standards.

I don’t know what Ricky Gervais was thinking when he pitched this idea to BBC Films. Perhaps he is cash strapped and needed to latch onto an audience nostalgic for the heyday of The Office. Whatever his intentions were, he fell short on his vision.

david-brent-life-on-the-road-2-600x889Comedy has come a long way since The Office. What was acceptable or funny back then isn’t funny now. A film about an aspiring musical talent that is half comedian and half attention whore isn’t new or inventive. Why they even bothered to promote the soundtrack to this film, I don’t know. I can’t think of any reasonable person that would listen to those songs and think ‘yes, I want to use valuable space on my iPod to this self indulgent lyrical nonsense’. If you want musical comedy, look for The Lonely Island, Flight of the Conchords, even the classics like Weird Al Yankovic or Adam Sandler. Their music is designed to be comedy material.

This film represents everything that is wrong with the film industry right now. It drags people in who have a fond memory of a programme and then butcher it with some money making, second rate B-movie that tries so desperately hard to be more than what it is.

Watching this film is like being in the audience for one of David Brent’s shows. It’s awkward, undercooked and you don’t know if it’s okay to leave halfway through because you’re worried he might notice. The only positive you can say about this film is that the rest of the cast is genuinely funny. The savagery and brutality of the band, the sound technician, even his colleagues at Lavichem – they highlight everything wrong with the film simply by playing their part.

Nobody feels comfortable in their role. It’s just like a car on its last legs, coughing and wheezing as you pray it gets you home before it decides to give up. I don’t quite know why people in the audience were laughing. It’s not laugh out loud funny. It’s mild and childish humour that is designed to be mindless and stupid.

That’s probably my best way of describing this film. It’s mindless. It’s stupid. It is trying to send a message but it isn’t doing a very good of telling you what the message is. It plays on stereotypes like they’re going out of fashion. I’m sure there’s a message in there about political correctness and how we need to learn to laugh at ourselves. Ricky Gervais needs to learn when to quit. It was about the same time that The Office ended.

Don’t waste your money on this. You might think that it will be a laugh, Ricky Gervais back to his old self. It isn’t. It’s a cash cow that the BBC has wasted millions on when it could have been put to better use. Whether it’s the cameos, the references, the tired look and feel of the film, it all feels like another excuse for us to look back at The Office and realise that it was probably best kept in the mast.


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