Director: Ricky Gervais
I take absolutely no pleasure in delivering this review. I have been a massive fan of the show since the very first show aired when few knew what the new show BBC2 were offering was. I wanted so much for the return of David Brent to be an enjoyable experience but as with his brief Comic Relief appearance we are presented with the same basic problem; David Brent does not work outside of The Office.
We catch up with Brent still working as a cleaning products rep in Berkshire. He hasn’t changed although he has had a nervous breakdown and is in therapy. He is still chasing the all elusive dream, going on tour and signing a record deal with his reformed, but with all new members, Forgone Conclusion. Brent takes the bold yet foolish move of cashing in all of pensions he took out in the nineties and taking three weeks away from work to go on tour.
At the outset the majority of his work mates thinks he’s a prat and make no of secret of it. His band mates have more of a tolerance for him but mostly because he pays for everything. For the most part everyone just takes the mickey out of him and it’s only really his young rap protegé Dom that actually seems to genuinely look out for Brent.
In the early parts of the film it just seems like, almost word for word, the film just re-hashes all the inappropriate jokes Brent made in the TV series which often got him into trouble with his superiors. For me this was the only part of the film that came close to working. Brent was in his familiar surroundings and could, from his point of view, give as good as he got and he did have some allies in Nigel and Pauline. The laughs here, though, were still few and far between.
When the films move out onto the road it just turns into a very bleak tale of cruelty and mishaps for Brent. The film is quite heavy on performances by the band to very small numbers and there are a number of songs within the film that just don’t land despite them containing the usual absurd Brent lyrics.
You would at least hope to see Brent gain some sort of redemption at the film’s end but it just comes to a close with a glimmer of hope that nobody actually earned. It just reminded me that David Brent got his happy ending at the end of the series and that’s how it should have been left.
I think that David Brent Life On The Road proves that The Office was the sum of its parts and not just Brent. Stephen Merchant is badly missed from a writing and directing stance as are the rest of the original cast. There isn’t a Tim, Gareth, Dawn or a big Keith and the film suffers badly for it. I’m not saying they had to be in the film but characters needed to be introduced to fill those gaps. This would probably only been possible within a new six part series rather than a film, however.
Sorry Ricky, I really wanted this to work but it wasn’t funny and it was uncomfortably bleak.
Verdict: 1.5/5 David should have stayed in The Office.