Ricky Gervais has made a career out of embracing the awkward, poking hot button issues with a sharp wit, and generally being a funny bloke. Naturally, one of his most iconic roles is that of David Brent from the BBC version of The Office, a part that used all of those components to good measure. So obviously, the temptation has always been there to revisit his most prolific character, in the name of exploring life after the series' run had ended, and that's the itch David Brent: Life On The Road was intended to scratch. Whether you were waiting for this day to come, or are merely casually interested, the results are definitely entertaining.
14 years after BBC Two aired their documentary series The Office, David Brent (Gervais) has returned to office life, albeit as a salesman rather than a manager. But he's not going to let that prevent him from realizing his greatest dream: becoming a rock star. With two weeks of vacation (mostly unpaid), an aspiring rapper (Ben Bailey Smith), and a backing band that's are more mercenaries for hire than friends, Brent's ready to hit the road of rock and roll. And the BBC is back to cover every cringe-worthy moment of the journey.
As someone with a casual knowledge of The Office, David Brent: Life On The Road probably works better as an experience, as it takes a couple of plot points from the end of the series' finale and works with them to make a fresh story. Thankfully, one could see this film as more of an extension of those themes, particularly David's desperation to be accepted. It's through this element that Ricky Gervais' film makes its best moves, as there are not only a good many jokes to be had from this scenario, but there's also the trademark mixture of bittersweet drama and happiness that we've seen Gervais and series co-writer Stephen Merchant explore before.
However, if you're a die hard fan of the source material, David Brent: Life On The Road may seem like a couple steps back, and a bit of a rehash of the events that have already happened. Which isn't a terrible problem, as the film has plenty of original songs that help forward the story of Brent's rock star life. Even better, those songs - written by Gervais himself - happen to be absolutely hysterical. But, in true David Brent form, there's some questionable material in each and every number he takes out on the road. It's through this vehicle that David Brent: Life On The Road elevates itself from a typical TV adaptation to a solid film that stands alone.
For all of the fun that David Brent: Life On The Road provides, it's ultimately an experience that's probably best enjoyed by those who are familiar with the original Office series. But that isn't said to turn off any prospective new fans, as Ricky Gervais' shtick is the baseline for David's overall antics. So if you're a Gervais fanatic, or even just a lover of dry comedy with some pathos included at no extra charge, you'll have no problem enjoying this road trip.
David Brent: On The Road is available on Feb. 10th for streaming.
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