David Brent, Ricky Gervais' entertainingly pathetic creation from cult series The Office, finally gets his own spin-off movie as the boss-turned-sales rep attempts to make his rock star dreams come true on a misguided UK tour.
David Brent: Life On The Road first introduces us to Brent's new life as a sales rep for a bathroom supply firm and, this time, his co-workers aren't all that willing to politely play along with his ebullient cluelessness even if a couple of them do genuinely like him. The film is shot in the same mockumentary style as The Office with Brent and his bandmates talking to the camera throughout their journey. The tour is obviously a disaster from the get-go as the band members are instantly put off by Brent's blatant desperation, awful songwriting and bad sense of humour. The gigs are one catastrophe after another between Brent's naively offensive songs, no-one coming to see the band play and countless mishaps. Fans of awkward humour should be in heaven with this film as a lot of effort is put into making Brent and his new adventure about as painfully awkward as possible.
There are similarities between this film and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa but Life On The Road is a much tougher watch as it's not so much focused on being silly. Instead, we follow a genuinely sad attempt by Brent to become a famous musician and, more often than not, you do feel bad for that character. Alan Partridge may be likeable but he's a bitchy buffoon, David Brent doesn't really deserve the amount of negativity and mockery he receives throughout the doomed-from-the-start tour so when someone finally offers him a little bit of kindness, the film packs an unexpected emotional punch. You can tell that while Gervais is well aware of how much of an idiot Brent is, he also likes him quite a bit so even when people are being very mean to that character, the sharp script makes sure we're never completely on their side, no matter how ridiculous Brent gets.
This could have easily just been a pointless cash-in but Ricky Gervais delivers a really good spin-off that's both very funny but also very sad. It's certainly one of last year's best comedies with the hilarious songs alone making it worth a watch.