David Brent (Ricky Gervais) star of the British TV show The Office returns to the screen and is now being followed by a film crew documenting his attempt to become a rock star. Inevitably through a mix between Brent’s own horrific ineptitude and bad luck (with the former taking a far greater role) the tour goes downhill.
I quite like Ricky Gervais. I think, although painful, The Office is a really smart funny piece of television but I’ve always been more of an Extras man myself. I love Extras. I think it mixes pathos and genuine hilarity absolutely perfectly. So already going into David Brent: Life on the Road this isn’t my favourite Gervais creation. And I’ve found recently that with every solo Gervais outing I feel more and more that perhaps Stephen Merchant was the real talent from that duo. Life on the Road is no different.
Now straight off Life on the Road doesn’t work as a film. In adapting the TV series to a film format Gervais has attempted to tack on an emotional arc right at the end and it just doesn’t work. It feels fake forced and uncomfortable. It can also be a little bit of a drag spending an hour and a half with Brent himself because he really isn’t that much of a likeable guy. For me the real problem with Life on the Road is that clearly Gervais likes David Brent a whole bunch more than I do, or that any normal human would if they were to meet Brent in real life.
Having said all of those negatives, Life on the Road is funny. For sure it is more of a collection of themed sketches than an actual movie, but the majority of those sketches are funny. Gervais does this character confidently although it’s nothing new, the standout for me is Doc Brown who plays an excellent straight man to Gervais’ nonsense.
Overall, Life on the Road didn’t work for me and I was left underwhelmed by the experience. But I did laugh a fair amount. I just want to see Gervais do something else for a change.