• Guy Jeffries

David Brent: Life on the Road Review


Director: Ricky Gervais.

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Mandeep Dhillion, Jo Hartley, Tom Bennett, Ben Bailey Smith (Doc Brown), Tom Basden.

Ricky Gervais writes, directs and of course stars in this main feature spin-off from his massive TV mockumentary, The Office which aired for the first time back in 2001 and spurred a USA version later in 2005. It's fair to say this was Gervais' biggest break, after a failed pop music career with Seona Dancing and managing Suede. He is undoubtedly one of the funniest and shocking guys around, however, that is subject to individual taste.

Fortunately for me, I happen to be a fan of Gervais' material, especially having seen him live performing his stand-up. However, unfortunately for me I'm not so keen on his reinvention of the sitcom but I understand, it is great writing adding a sense of perverted realism to his comedies such as The Office and Extras.

David Brent has been voted by many a poll as one of the greatest comic characters of all time, returns, however not the office manager he once was and instead, takes some holiday and unpaid leave from his sales repping to pursue his fame and fortune as a rock star. For those of you familiar with David Brent, you can imagine how ludicrous his tour pans out.

Now, knowing about Gervais' background within the real music industry I can't help but think this is a self parody, maybe exaggerating past experiences from gigging and promoting bands including an unrealistic, blind ambition about hitting the big time. There was a prior resurrection of David Brent back in 2013 with a short and a nine episode series of Learn Guitar With David Brent which quite possibly was the start of this film.

David Brent embarks on a tour with his band Foregone Conclusion in true office style as a mockumentary. The rest of the band hate him and the crowds (those that accidentally attend) don't like him, which guarantees awkward and inappropriate drama. I say drama, because, though cringe-worthy, it's not actually funny. But you can't fault the performances, the film's portrayals and not the gigs.

The band is made up of Ex-Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows, Ex-Dum dums bassist and guitarist Steve Clarke and Stuart Baxter Wilkinson and ex-Clarksville keyboardist Michael Clarke. The latter three recently forming The Sad Professors. Oh, and of course rapper/comedian Ben Bailey Smith who is better known as Doc Brown.Surprisingly, the music isn't actually bad, with catchy hooks and good melodies but the lyrics are obviously outrageous and so unPC.

Not sure if Office fans will be disappointed, but Brent is the only original Office member you'll see here. No Freeman, no fellow comedian Stephen Merchant and not even a Mackenzie Crook. However we have a Jo Hartley, Mandeep Dhillon and a silly Tom Bennett who is very good playing the fool (see Love & Friendship.)

Gervais is obviously a very busy man, undeniably successful but like many of the other Brit sitcoms moving to the big screen, it doesn't quite make the grade. It's seem to be tragedy of programs like Bean, Alan Partridge and this year's AbFab. I'm sure fans of the series will enjoy this but non-fans will possibly find it pointless. Was nice to see the recently closed Camden Barfly (now the Camden Assembly) The Electric Ballroom and I think Waterrats in King's Cross, just a shame they're not credited as they're doubling for somewhere else.

Running Time: 5

The Cast: 6

Performance: 7

Direction: 6

Story: 6

Script: 6

Creativity: 6

Soundtrack: 6

Job Description: 5

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

53% 5/10

#RickyGervais #MandeepDhillon #JoHartley #TomBennett #BenBaileySmithDocBrown #TomBasden