Monday, February 13, 2017

David Brent: Life on the Road Netflix Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)
Watch David Brent: Life on the Road on Netflix
Written by: Ricky Gervais
Directed by: Ricky Gervais
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Rob Jarvis, Abbie Murphy
Rated: TV-MA

Ricky Gervais reprises his role as David Brent from the U.K. The Office series in this mockumentary comedy. He's a traveling salesman that cashes in his pension to chase his dreams with his band Forgone Conclusion.

It's too much David Brent. He wasn't the key to success of the U.K. The Office, it was the ensemble cast. This movie puts Brent front and center and he's a one trick pony. Brent is an earnest buffoon that manages to offend at every turn. That works when you have other characters and stories, but not when that's the only pitch. Only one other character is developed at all, and that's just for Brent to have a foil.
The story of Brent trying one last time to chase his dream isn't bad. The rare moments when we delve into his insecurities aren't bad, but the bulk of this movie is showcasing what one shouldn't say or do and that gets old.
Skip it.

This goes for crude right off the bat. It's been a while since I've seen The Office, but Brent feels like a parody of himself. I don't remember him being this bad. The movie spends too much time developing his offensive side. We get glimpse where you think he almost realizes he's on the outside and that maybe his awkwardness is a defense mechanism. His band mates are there because he's paying them. He's trying to buy a dream without developing it, but instead of delving into that story, Brent pens lines like, "mental in the head or mental in the legs..." where he's trying to right a song for the defense of the disabled. He's never able to convey what he really means.

He's great as a side character, but it's too much when he's the lead. This is shot like the series with interviews interspersed through the story. Putting David Brent's name on this and selling it as a pseudo-sequel to The Office created false expectations. Making this another awkward character from Ricky Gervais would have worked better. The ensemble cast is what endeared the series to fans, not the oaf of a boss David Brent.

The character is tone deaf and awkward. So is this movie. I don't think it's intentional that the movie and the character fail simultaneously and spectacularly. It would have been great if that was the point, but neither one get it.
After Brent pays his band mates to have drinks with him, Dom tell Brent that people would like him if he'd be himself. That may be the best line in the movie. This is David Brent. Very few people are going to like him. At the same time, Dom is just saying what he thinks he should in the situation. It's not helpful advice.

I liked the ending. It's a small win for Brent, which this movie desperately needed. The entire thing beats you over the head with this obtuse character. His awkward laugh was annoying from the start and just got worse. Towards the end it became aggravating. Finally, right at the end, we get a moment where he looks like a real person. This movie spends too much time making him into a caricature.

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