Director: Ricky Gervais
Writer: Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais is nothing short of genius. He is a writer, director, comedian, actor, musician, songwriter, the list goes on. But he is also humble with his stature, although he himself would lead you to believe otherwise, but that is part of who he is.
In 2001 the world was not only properly introduced to Ricky Gervais, but also to a man called David Brent, a manager at a paper merchants in Slough called “Wernham Hogg”. It was a comedy series filmed as a mock style documentary expertly highlighting the traditional ways of office life. Originally starting life on BBC2, the series struggled to hit the ratings, but before long word began to spread, the show moved to BBC1 and the popularity soared.
Gervais knows how to write and he also knows how not to overdo it. He likes to keep things simple. The standard of his shows being a minimum of two series and often some Christmas specials. The Office spawned its own Christmas specials back in 2003 and that’s the last we heard of David Brent…until now.
Life on the Road is the film version of David Brent, an hour and thirty six minutes of the manager that everyone hates to love. The film shows Brent’s true passion which is music and sees him team up with a group of musicians to embark on a tour under the band name, Foregone Conclusion, which Brent funds himself. The tour, if you can describe it as that considering the majority of it takes place only a matter of miles from Slough, really shows Brent in his natural style and the relationship he has with the band is nothing short of hysterical.
Life on the Road is definitely in keeping with the cringe worthy themes that The Office became famous for and there were plenty of moments in which the tradition was kept up. It did miss the allure of the TV series, mostly with the other characters, but this once again proves Gervais’s success, not just as a writer, but as an actor and I have to say he is up there with the best. Gervais does awkward well and the range of his emotions in his performance is so natural, it is beautiful to watch and adds to the gawkiness of the situation.
With the same old Brent comes a new “office” and new characters. Strong support came in many comedic guises from Jo Hartley, Andrew Brooke and Tom Bennett as well as cameos from Kevin Bishop and Roisin Conaty. It is the performance of comedian and rapper, Doc Brown that really makes this work. He adds the “Gareth” element to the movie and is the source of much of those moments where you just want to shove your fist into your mouth for Brent.
Despite bringing the majority of it on himself, you cannot help but feel sorry for David Brent which again is credit to the writing. Leaving you laughing one minute and then wanting to go for a beer and putting your arm around him the next.
It will never be as strong as “The Office”, but it holds the appeal. Having watched it once, you will find yourself drawn back to it, wanting to watch it again and again. And again.