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LIFE ON THE ROAD
Director: Ricky Gervais
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Jo Hartley, Ben Bailey Smith, Tom Basden, Tom Bennett
Three stars (out of five)
The Office ended on such a perfect note in 2003 that this new revisiting of the David Brent character runs the real risk of tarnishing the show’s reputation.
In the years since, Ricky Gervais’ profile has conspicuously increased, most notably with his infamous stint hosting the Golden Globes, even while his post-Office TV work has declined in quality and his big-screen career hasn’t really set Hollywood on fire.
Brent has never truly gone away though: a couple of cameos on the US Office here, a Comic Relief sketch there, and a very funny YouTube series, Learn Guitar with David Brent, from which the idea for Life on the Road probably originated.
It’s no surprise that Gervais would again gravitate towards Brent at this point in his career; the story of a last-ditch attempt at superstardom perhaps reflective of his own yearnings.
The film continues the mockumentary format to follow Brent, and his re-formed band Foregone Conclusion (a bunch of session musos who generally despise him), on a self-funded rock ’n’ roll tour of the UK, which basically amounts to playing mostly empty pubs within a 20km radius of Slough.
It’s not a patch on the original series, and Gervais’ brand of equal-opportunity offending is just plain offensive when it misses the mark, but there are still enough good moments to make it worthwhile, the songs are cringingly great, and Brent is such an endearingly awful comic creation that you might almost feel sorry for him.
- Jeremy Quinn