Review: David Brent – Life on the Road (2016)

Review by Doctor Squee

MV5BNWM1MjI0M2QtZTY0Yi00ODkyLWEzYzktMzc3NzM4YWQ5OTQ1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjQ3NzUxOTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1333,1000_AL_When I heard Ricky Gervais was bringing back his lead character from ‘The Office’ I was nervous. I love the original Office and Brent was such an amazing creation I was worried to see if Brent could pull it off again. Seeing his comic relief video a few years ago gave me hope. If you haven’t seen the video for ‘Equality Street’ you need to check it out here

So when I heard his companion from this video Ben Bailey Smith (AKA Doc Brown) was also in the film I got more hopeful and even more so when I saw some clips. The film did not disappoint!

Brent is now working as a rep selling cleaning products. He is working partly in an office again, this time not as the boss though and the respect he used to get from his co-workers because he was in charge is gone. Some tolerate him, a few like him and are kind to him, most are hateful towards him. But one dream never left Brent, that of touring with a band and being a rock star. So Brent hires a session band and sound engineer after cashing in some pensions he took out when he was on more money and sets out on tour.
Ricky Gervais manages in this film to take the awkward from the office and turn it up even higher with some scenes that actually made me squirm in my seat in the cinema. Although at times you can’t help but laugh at Brent’s stupidity; at other times you genuinely feel for him and the innocence of just wanting to be liked and to follow his dream regardless of his abilities.

Bailey Smith shines in this film. Although he is; for the most part, there to be someone genuinely cool who is trying to be nice to Brent without damaging his rep he puts in some lovely touches to his performance that shows he is sometimes maybe trying too hard to be cool no matter what. He also shows his quite frankly unfair abundance of talent as a great actor, comic and rapper. It’s also worth mentioning the session band that tour as ‘Forgone Conclusion (mark 2)’ that are clearly there for the money and barely tolerate Brent and are used perfectly in talking head segments through the film to devastating comic effect.105367240-brent-bailey-large_trans++IbTDq2tM-BCxND-etb_WlJav4wN9nYlMsMPAW02wk7c

As this is shot in the documentary style this film also shows how much documentary styles have change and it feels good that they haven’t tried too hard to make this in the style of the Office whilst still giving the Office a few nods.

The music is brilliant. It would have been painful to sit through an hour of bad song. Gervais and Smith sing perfectly and the comedy comes not from being out of key, but the subject matter chosen by Brent. You can write a great rock track but if your subjects are Slough and being a sales rep then it is going to come off as ridiculous as you would want Brent to be.

I think the only parts of the film I didn’t like are firstly the connecting tissue of the film. Essentially you are writing a series of scenes giving the opportunity for Brent to do silly things and make a prat out of himself and not a plot as such. Great, but that means you need to get from one moment to another without it seeming like you are just going for one musical performances to another. A few times this didn’t work. Secondly there is a half-hearted love interest woven into the film which as they didn’t really go for it could have just been lost.

All in all this is a wonderfully awkward film that really reminded me of Spinal Tap in the songs and style and left me singing the songs back to myself on the way home. Please check it out at a cinema near you today. 4/5

You can pre-order the DVD now from Amazon

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