Film Review: David Brent: Life on the Road

by Evan Brown

Rated MA15+. Starring Ricky Gervais, Rob Jarvis, Abbie Murphy. Directed by Ricky Gervais.

David’s back! It’s been over fifteen years since the BBC’s critically acclaimed mockumentary The Office aired around the world for the first time. For those who somehow missed this sensation, The Office followed the lives of office workers of a small paper company in England.  A mundane idea with catastrophic results as the company was managed by a complete idiot David Brent (Gervais).  Now ten years later, cringeworthy boss/singer songwriter/comedian/entertainer is back in his own feature Life on the Road which follows David, who has saved up all his annual leave and has embarked on a country tour with his newly formed band ‘Forgone Conclusion’.  In true David Brent form he manages to insult, offend and belittle almost everyone that comes in his path with his over-the-top political incorrectness and insensitivity.  David’s naivety and ignorance is in full form as his band, workmates, publicist and sound engineer watch in horror the tragedy that is the tour.

Life on the Road has a particular humour that not everyone finds funny.  It’s true Gervais style that puts you out of your comfort zone and makes you feel extremely squeamish (remember when he hosted the Oscars?).  If you’re like me however and find Gervais’ style of humour incredibly funny you will find yourself in stitches laughing until you’ve run out of breath.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in a cinema.  Songs such as “Don’t Make Fun of the Handicapped” and “My Native American Friend” will leave you feeling horrified yet dying of laughter over David’s ignorance.  This feeling of mortification and embarrassment starts from the first scene and continues right through the film.  We are taken on an emotional journey with the friends of David Brent’s as they look on with disgust.  Unlike The Office there is a sense of redemption for David Brent when his sound engineer tries to explain to the camera how David isn’t as bad as he comes off.

‘David isn’t such a bad guy really, I actually like him.  He just feels like he needs to have a platform in order to be liked.’

Throughout his life David has put all his energy in trying to be loved and fitting in with his peers.  He goes to extraordinary lengths to do this and it is heartbreakingly sad (yet hilarious at the same time) to watch him try to achieve this.  David never fits in as much as he tries.

This inability to fit in made me think about my own life and fitting in with my church family.  As a skateboarding wannabe rockstar kid who attends a church in an extremely wealthy area of the world I shouldn’t fit in at all.  Yet I find people going out of their way to make sure I feel part of the church family.  I have found people that wouldn’t normally accept me, who are now my closest sisters and brothers. Although we are extremely different we have something extremely common – love for the risen Lord Jesus. Paul says in Ephesians 4:15-16:

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love”

 I don’t need to have a platform to make people laugh in order for them to like me.  Christians are united in Christ, and he is the one who brings us and holds us together.  Sometimes I hypothesise what it would be like if David Brent were to walk through the doors of a church with a Christ-centred family. I hope that he would find himself being welcomed, loved and accepted despite all his flaws and edges.  Perhaps that could be the next mockumentary?

The Verdict: This is classic David Brent but in new situations and predicaments. You will be taken on a nostalgic journey of embarrassment, humiliation and hilarity.  For all The Office fans this movie is a must see. 4/5

David Brent: Life on the Road releases in Australian cinemas today.

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