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
|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|