David Brent: Life on the Road Review

Director: Ricky Gervais

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jo Hartley, Doc Brown, Tom Bennett, Andy Burrows, Tom Basden, Steve Clarke, Michael Clarke, Stuart Wilkinson. 

The Overview

A camera crew catches up with David Brent (Gervais), the former star of the fictional British TV series The Office, as he now fancies himself a rockstar on the road.

The Introduction

I think it will be helpful before we get stuck into the review to explain a little bit about my background with The Office. I used to be a big fan of this series, but over time I fell a little out of love with it. Whilst I still found parts of it funny, the cringe far outweighed the comedy, and in places I found it completely unwatchable. With that being said, whilst my expectations were low for this film, I went in with an open mind and hoping for the best. So was it worth the watch? Let’s find out!

The Good

It’s hard to believe that The Office ended almost 13 years ago, with the last episode being screened in December of 2003. Whilst some might argue this was too long to wait to bring Brent to the big screen, I actually think it has done the film huge favours. In the early noughties, Brent was everywhere, and it rocketed Ricky Gervais to super-stardom. I feel the over-saturation of the character had something to do with me falling out of love with The Office, but as soon as this film started, I though “Aw, it is nice to have Brent back!” Undoubtedly as annoying as ever, but with such a long time since the series ended, the timing is just right for this reunion!

The first half of the film is far funnier than I expected, Brent is on outrageously cringey form, and whilst the supporting cast are good it is very much a one-man show. The songs of Foregone Conclusion are absolutely hysterical and the laughs come thick and fast initially. If you don’t like Gervais and if you don’t like his style of comedy, then I don’t think this film will do much to change your mind, but if you liked The Office even a little bit, this film will remind you why.

Of the supporting cast, Doc Brown is given the most to do, and I thought he added a great balance to Gervais. He’s undoubtedly really talented as well, despite the nonsense Brent makes him rap about!

Something happens around halfway through this film which I really wasn’t expecting. Normally saying a comedy stops being funny would be a bad thing, and whilst Life on the Road never fully stops being funny completely, the reason why the tone shifts and the jokes become less frequent makes total sense for the character arc and the narrative change.

I definitely wasn’t expecting this film to be as touching as it was. It shows Brent as being human as well as a laughing stock. It goes to a place where you’re more likely to cry than you are to laugh and this was something unexpectedly brilliant. It keeps the film from being completely one-note, and as someone who finds the Brent joke wears a little thin over time, I really appreciated this.

The Bad

As with The Office, I don’t think this is a film which will age particularly well, nor is it one I think I would want to revisit again too soon, as I think so much of the comedy comes from not knowing what is going to come out of Brent’s mouth, and perhaps when you know, is when it stops being so funny.

I did find this film a little too long, even though it is only just 96 minutes! I think this comes from being used to the 30 minute episode length, so when it shifts to a feature length, it is a little jarring. The story is slightly repetitive, and until it reaches that turning point, you do kind of feel like you’ve seen enough of Brent humiliating himself over and over again!

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. I don’t think this movie will be for everyone, but I did really enjoy it, and those who loved The Office or are a fan of Gervais, will undoubtedly enjoy this. Even if you think you might not enjoy it, I’d give it a shot, it just might surprise you as it did for me.

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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