Directed by Ricky Gervais
Starring Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith and Jo Hartley
Film Review by Owen Herman
David Brent, star of BBC 2’s The Office, is back and making his big screen debut. After the events of the mockumentary, Brent (Ricky Gervais) is pursuing his dream of becoming a rock star, whilst enjoying the car parking benefits of being a sales rep. As a huge fan of The Office, I approached the film with some trepidation. It may not live up to the high standards of the TV show, but I am pleased to say Life on the Road is an enjoyable, if flawed, experience.
The general feel of the film will be instantly recognisable to any fan of the TV show, to the extent that if you were not a fan of the show, this film will not be enough to convert you. This is the full, hard-to-watch, painfully recognisable and occasionally sad, cringe comedy. Bar a very Gareth like character who appears now and then, it feels reasonably fresh. All the jokes hit and the film provides consistent awkward laughs. The move from an office to touring with a band allows for new gags, but it also takes away from the fly on the wall feel of the original. Life on the Road feels very much like a standard, albeit high quality, mockumentary and lacks the convincing nature that made some people think The Office was real.
The songs are very well written, with lyrics funny enough to make you laugh but serious enough to convince you David Brent might think they’re art. The band, “Foregone Conclusion”, and the rest of the supporting cast are solid new additions and Ben Bailey Smith’s Dom provides an interesting foil to Brent, but none of them have quite the impact of a Tim or even a Finchy. The film is surrounded by, and ends with, an air of slightly unbelievable positivity. There are still the sad moments you would expect, but not to the extent of the TV series. It leaves you feeling almost satisfied and happy, something which would be good in most circumstances, but with David Brent it just feels a bit wrong.
Any fan of The Office will laugh and cringe their way through this entertaining film. However they’ll also recognise a lack of the subtlety and intelligence that made the TV show more than just entertaining. Life on the Road allows us to see the same David Brent we know and love, but isn’t the piece of comedy genius we really wanted.