David Brent: Life on the Road | Review

Fifteen years in the making we finally have a David Brent movie. It may be surprising to know that I have never see an episode of THE OFFICE. For some reason I am rarely drawn to comedy on television. I love Ricky Gervais however and really must find the time to see his crazy office manager at work. Kernel Jack on the other hand has seen them and appreciates the comedy quite a bit more, so he was the most appropriate to review DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD. It’s out now from the fine folks at Entertainment One, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 96mins. Enjoy Kernel Jack’s thoughts on the movie……..all the best……JK.


In 2001, up and coming talents Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant started a television show called THE OFFICE. It was a documentary styled comedy that revolved around a small handful of workers, and it was a hit. While many of the characters in that show were fan favourites, there’s one that stood out the most, and that’s David Brent (Ricky Gervais). The character has appeared in a number of TV specials, promotions and short films over the years, but now, 15 years after the show’s beginnings, David Brent is officially back in business with his very own movie, DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD.


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For those who haven’t seen THE OFFICE, or perhaps those who need a bit of a refresher, David Brent was the man in charge, but as the show came to a conclusion, David was fired. From there, David went into a downwards spiral, as we find out in this movie, but he soon bounced back to the man he once was, now working in a new office for a sales company. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really fit in, and so David decides to finally follow his dreams of being a rock star. He puts together Foregone Conclusion, a band of which he is the lead singer. It’s his dream come true.

Putting together nearly every cent he has, David books for the band to go on tour, despite really only travelling around a very small area. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, with the band embarrassed of David and ashamed to stand next to him up on stage, especially Dom (Doc Brown), a wannabe rapper who’s hoping to get noticed. The film follows the band on tour, travelling alongside them through all their ups and downs (mostly downs), and documenting the goings on of David’s life nearly 15 years after THE OFFICE came to a conclusion.


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A number of shows over the years have attempted to transition from the small screen to the big screen, and it’s usually to mixed results. Some are hits; the Monty Python and Star Trek franchises in particular, but others don’t manage to work nearly as well as they did on television. Some stories just aren’t benefited from transitioning into a two-hour movie, and unfortunately, DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD is one of these.

One of the biggest issues I had with this movie was the fact that there simply wasn’t enough story to work with. The film, which, much like the show, was written and directed by Gervais himself, feels like a prolonged one-off 30-minute episode focused in on David Brent. In fact, if this were to simply be a one off 30-minute special, I may have liked it a whole lot more than I actually did. He tries so hard to create a plot, but there really isn’t one, and if a joke is funny, Gervais repeats it several more times until it dies an unfunny death.


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While most of his humour usually comes from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, the character of David Brent has never been better. Gervais has painted Brent as a sympathetic character, and while his jokes this time around are extremely hit or miss, especially when compared to the amount of times the jokes hit in THE OFFICE, the character is a loveable idiot.

Gervais does a good job at getting you emotionally invested in his story, focusing on both his flaws and his ambitions, and even when the character is doing the exact thing he shouldn’t be doing, I loved him for it. There was even a scene near the film’s finale that had me on the break of tears, and I wasn’t expecting to be moved in the way I was. Plus, his songs…. Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. The jokes may not always work, but the songs definitely do. More than a few of them had me roaring with laughter.


One of the many, many things that, for me, made THE OFFICE so brilliant was its dynamic cast. Each character was unique and memorable, and I felt an emotional attachment to every single one of them. Watching DAVID BRENT do his thing can be fun, but I couldn’t help but miss the several other leads from the show. It just wasn’t the same without them, and while Brent is partnered up with a new crew of characters, none of them were as interesting as those who came beforehand. In fact, I can’t even remember most of their names, let alone any of their jokes. Seeing the old crew return would’ve brought a smile to my face, and while this film did have me smiling from time to time, I wasn’t smiling nearly as much as I hoped I would.


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DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD had the potential to be so much more. THE OFFICE is one of the most celebrated British comedies of all time, even managing to spawn an American remake which is arguably even more popular than the original. There were so many things Ricky Gervais could’ve done with this character, and while what he did worked, it simply wasn’t enough to fill a feature length movie. He should’ve done so much more, rather than waste his time with hit or miss humour that mostly relies on shock value.

The entirety of THE OFFICE is currently available to stream on Netflix. Do yourself a favor and watch that instead. This movie is far from fantastic, but if you truly are interested in watching it, I have no doubt it’ll be making its way onto Netflix in no time.


2 and a Half Pops




When he’s not spending an embarrassing amount of hours browsing through Netflix, Jack Dignan dedicates his time to reviewing movies of all genres and languages, and has done so since 2012. He also maintains a website of his own – www.directorscutmovies.com – and ever since their interview, he’s been best friends with Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino just doesn’t know it yet. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.