David Brent is the pinnacle of this kind of humour. You can hate Ricky Gervais, and you can think The Office is overrated, but Brent is a brilliantly excruciating creation who doesn’t so much hit the UK funny-bone as connect a car battery to the ulnar nerve. The best moments of David Brent: Life on the Road prove that Gervais can still create moments so intensely embarrassing that you want to nail your eyelids shut.
The film follows Brent as he quits his office job and sets out with his ‘band’ (session musicians who need the money) on a ‘UK tour’ (a fortnight’s trawl through empty venues) to play ‘music’. It’s a chance to take the character out of the office and parade him around a disbelieving world that, having watched The Office, already hates him.
In one scene, Brent has to pay his band members to have a drink with him (on top of their usual fees, and the cost of the drinks), and then has to instigate all the small talk. The humiliation, the sheer conversational emasculation, almost amounts to a social atrocity. This is the kind of humour that relies on an enduring cringe central to our national self-conception, and Gervais’ ability to tap into it is a sort of genius. The problem with Life on the Road is that this genius is not exercised nearly enough.
It doesn’t help that Gervais still can’t balance humour and sentimentality, and that he wastes the abundance of sheer comic talent in the cast: Diane Morgan (Screenwipe), Mandeep Dhillon (Some Girls), and Andrew Brooke (PhoneShop) are either underused or straightjacketed.
All this amounts to is FUNNY TV CHARACTER IN SLIGHTLY UNDERWHELMING FEATURE FILM SHOCK. Still, it’s better than Absolutely Fabulous.
|What||David Brent: Life on the Road film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
12 Aug 16 – 12 Oct 16, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|