By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is of the big screen outing for the Brentmiester. Ricky Gervais has once again graced the cinema as his tragically, loveable character David Brent.
It’s been three years since we last saw the ex-Wernham Hogg boss (friend second, and probably entertainer third) spitting some lyrics on his track equality street.
Now he’s back with a point to prove and I sat impatiently excited in the Phoenix cinema for the joy that awaited me…
13 years has passed since Brent left the paper merchant company, a camera crew catches up with the former star of the fictional British TV series The Office to see how life is on the road. He’s cashed in all his pension investments and has taken two weeks leave so he can have a crack at rock stardom. David hires a tour bus to ship himself and his band, Foregone Conclusion (mark two), around the worst pubs of Reading. Enter the cringe-worthy scenes and let Brent’s dignity fly out the window.
We begin where Brent is best, an office environment. He embarrasses himself again and again with his innocent, yet insulting (he doesn’t realise), behaviour as he tells sexist and racially unstable jokes. Strangely, it just feels normal. Once he has heart set on a music tour, we quickly leave Lavichem, a tampon merchant, behind and hit the road.
‘LOTR’ doesn’t really have much of a narrative; the audience are just taken from gig-to-gig as each concert gets progressively worse than the night before. To be fair, the sitcom didn’t have much plot as it was more about the growth of each central character – and that beauty is still contained in ‘LOTR’. For instance, Doc Brown is a great addition as Brent’s ‘token mixed-race’ friend, Dom. David likes to show off Dom because of his background. Their on-screen chemistry is great to watch and so many chuckles are down to the pair.
As Ricky doesn’t need to adhere to any BBC guidelines, he and Brown can enjoy the best scenes together as the knuckle-biting cringe takes over with close-to-the-edge comedy. At times, it’s enough to leave you with no teeth as you literally grate them so much. There’s a few musings in relation to ethnic minorities and gender divide that pack such a punch you don’t know whether to belly-laugh or wince.
Along with the so many great jokes, the songs also make this movie tick. The brilliant Native American song (soar like an eagle, sit like a pelican) is a treasure as is his nod to Slough with the aptly named song, Slough. The songs are both amusing and musically adept. They break up the film perfectly and give the movie a strong musical core; my only criticism would be to feature the songs more predominantly.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Gervais has had his 15 minutes of fame in the music business. We already knew he could cut it in the pop world as he enjoyed brief success in the 1980s, well in the Philippines, as a frontman to the band Seona Dancing. Gervais has got a decent voice but this film highlights he is the better writer than singer with hilarious yet catchy tunes.
For me personally, I love the character of David Brent profusely. Your love of Life On The Road comes down to how much you enjoy the character. I spoke to my brother about this film after we watched it and I said David Brent has to be one of, if not, the best fictional characters of all time. Normally on the ‘top 50 TV shows’ Del Boy collects the gong, but as you can see from their TV movie specials near the end of Only Fools and Horses; they weren’t all that. For me, Gervais has never put a foot wrong with Brent and that is largely down to how good the character David is.
If we look at the mess that The Inbetweeners 2 movie gave us or the below par Absolutely Fabulous Movie, this is poles apart in comparison. Life On The Road is how you do a sitcom on the big screen. Long-live David Brent I say! In a nutshell, whenever Ricky Gervais chooses to resurrect the loveable idiot, I will watch him and watch him, and watch him again.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
David Brent: Life On The Road is currently showing at the Phoenix cinema until 1st September 2016 – certificate 15