Last night I went with a friend of mine to see David Brent : Life on the Road. I think we both had mixed feelings about it initially – on one hand it’s great to see this character again, while on the other it chances hurting the mythology. I am happy to say that this film was everything I hoped it would be and more.
An Underrated Actor
I have always thought of Ricky Gervais as being an underrated actor. People always seem to say things like “The Office was good, but that David Brent does make me cringe”. It seems no-one remembers his performance when he was made redundant. Or better yet, Ricky’s monologue in the Big Brother house during the Christmas special of Extras. Both really powerful, and this film he seems to work that magic again.
The film seemed to highlight the tragedy of David’s character instead of fitting in too many gags. It really did feel like a man’s last ditch effort to make it to what he thinks his perfect life should be. The jokes are often at David’s expense, and while often very funny, still managed to make me sympathetic towards him. This is what good comedy should be – exploring a wide range of emotions with the comedy cleverly weaved throughout.
Music to back the story up
Life on the Road is a story of David’s attempt at a music career and tour, and with it there are real songs performed. These aren’t crappy throwaway jokey songs either; they are genuinely well-written from the perspective of a slightly miss-informed Tampon rep. Some songs you will recognise from being mentioned / performed during The Office TV series. Others will be brand new to you, like ‘Lady Gypsy’ and ‘Aint No Trouble’.
Another great thing to see as well, was how the world around David has drastically changed. I remember hearing Ricky Gervais talking about how it’s the cut-throat, dog eat dog world that David now finds himself in. With people who are influenced by “The Apprentice”, trying to get one over on the next person. David just doesn’t seem to quite fit in that world – and good for him.
Hats off to the Doc
I also have to mention Doc Brown’s return to the world of Brent as rapper Dom Johnson. Doc Brown is another one of those genuinely talented people who seem to be able to work in a few different art forms. He features on three of the songs of David Brent’s and performs an original song of his own (Dom’s own) during the film, and absolutely kills it.