REVIEW: David Brent: Life On The Road
Ricky Gervais, Rob Jarvis, Abbie Murphy
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…you’re in for an hour-and-a-half of Brent at his best.
The Office’s David Brent is back! In the decade plus since we last saw him at Wernham Hogg, David’s moved on, repping cleaning chemicals across Berkshire, but still dreaming of making it big with his band, Forgone Conclusion. Unfortunately, due to children, mental illness, and a conviction for sexual assault, The Conclusion are no more, so forming Forgone Conclusion Mk II and booking an intensive eight date tour over three weeks, in and around the Slough area, David takes his not so happy band of troubadours out to do what he does best. Unsurprisingly, the rocky start to the tour gets progressively rockier from one date to the next. Poor attendances, tensions within the band, and shooting a woman in the face with a t-shirt gun are just the start of Brent’s problems. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when David persuades a record label to come down and check out one of their final gigs that could finally be his big break. It’s not. But it could be.
Bringing Brent to the big screen is a pretty tall order. After all, transitions from cult TV shows to feature length movies are, more often than not, less then successful at best and just plain terrible at worst. This, coupled with the fact that Gervais didn’t co-write this with The Office co-creator, Stephen Merchant, doesn’t bode well at all for David Brent: Life On The Road.
But it is with great relief that Gervais really pulls this off, and the feature length debut of David Brent does fit in with the previous material and doesn’t feel strained or laboured in the slightest. There’s even a little pathos halfway through when you feel bad for David as his relentless optimism is tried and tried again.
The majority of the supporting cast, with the exception of the band’s rapper, Dom Johnson (Ben Bailey Smith) and potential love interest, Pauline (Jo Hartley), aren’t particularly well fleshed out, but ultimately this isn’t an ensemble piece, it’s all about Brent. Sure, there’s a heavy dose of off-colour humour and toe curling awkwardness as David looks to the camera yet again after delivering another highly dubious dose of his home-brand “philosophy”, but what did you expect? If you’re not a fan of The Office or Ricky Gervais, then David Brent: Life On The Road will do nothing to change your opinion. But if you are, then you’re in for an hour-and-a-half of Brent at his best.