Review: David Brent – Life on the road

Written by: Dee Pilgrim

Get ready to cringe as the star of The Office mockumentary makes it to the big screen in all his crass, insensitive, pathetic glory.

Ricky Gervais as David Brent

Ricky Gervais as David Brent

The film is written, directed, co-produced and stars Ricky Gervais as David Brent, cleaning and sanitary products salesman and would-be rock star. In the aftermath of the TV series which brought him to the public’s attention Brent has had a bit of a breakdown and so decides the way to get back to full fighting fitness is to take his old band Foregone Conclusion on a tour around his home town of Slough.

Trouble is, no-one wants to come and watch an ageing, slightly paunchy man with bad dress sense sing self-penned songs about native Americans and the disabled. Even worse than that, his band don’t even want him to share their tour bus or go for a drink with him – unless he pays them.

Once again, the format here is a mockumentary with David Brent hamming it up for the cameras with some truly awful jokes. He’s a fantasist who thinks he should be hanging out with the likes of Mick Jagger whereas the truth is he’s actually cashed in his ISAs to self-fund this vanity project. However, there are moments of sympathy for his self-imposed awfulness – a young rapper he has befriended (a brilliant Doc Brown) sees through all the posturing to the rather lonely man underneath and as the tour and the film draw to a close, Don the tour manager (an equally excellent Tom Basden), makes a small act of kindness that not so much warms the cockles but at least takes the chill off for a while.

Although the songs are good (albeit with the worst lyrics ever), there are a few too many of them and Brent hogs the majority of the screen time – fine if you’re a fan of Gervais’s particular brand of humiliating humour, not so hot if you find the David Brent character a pain. But the thing is, even when you’re groaning as Brent makes yet another inappropriate comment laced with innuendo as subtle as a shovel you won’t be able to take your eyes off the car crash that is unfolding before you.

Did I say cringeworthy? It most certainly is, but ever so funny too.

Author: Dee Pilgrim

Dee always knew she wanted to make her living from writing and so trained as a journalist before working for a variety of music and women’s titles including Sounds, Company, Cosmopolitan, Ms London, New Woman, and Girl About Town. After going freelance she concentrated on celebrity interviews and film, theatre, music and restaurant reviews. Her love of film goes back to her very first cinema experience at the age of five when her mother took her to see Bambi. She cried. At one time she was the Film Editor for NOW magazine and also the secretary for the film section of the Critics’ Circle and the celebrity coordinator for its annual film awards’ event. She has written a number of books for teenagers through Trotman Publishing, including five Real Life Guides to vocational careers (including Carpentry, Plumbing and Catering), and also three books on Real Life Issues (Money, Bereavement and Self Harm). Her favourite film is still Bladerunner.

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