Review: Cringeworthy David Brent brings tragedy to comedy

Ricky Gervais as David Brent
Ricky Gervais as David Brent

Matt Adcock reviews David Brent: Life On The Road (15)

“I’m gonna roll you over, and rock you stupid, and leave you there just humming...”

David Brent is back. I never thought I’d write those words but here is the middle-aged master loser – on the big screen as a documentary team follow his dream of a ‘rock tour’ to save him from life as a sanitary products sales rep.

The Office was incredible TV, that made you wince and laugh in equal measure, the likes of which we haven’t fully seen since.

David Brent: Life On The Road picks up the potent unfulfilled dreams of Slough’s favourite office manager and presents the full horror of what happens when Brent cashes in his life savings and pensions to finance a tour for his band Foregone Conclusion. The good news is that this the best Gervais has been in years – capturing the brilliant comedy/pathos at the heart of The Office and delivering big time both in the laughs and the cringe inducing awfulness of Brent’s socially awkward overdrive.

This isn’t for those who are easily offended or just after some gentle humour – Life On The Road is a comedy-tragic-em-up that will rip your heart out even while you’re spitting popcorn.

This older Brent is a lonelier than ever, his hired bandmates won’t socialise with him or even let him on the expensive tour bus he’s shelled out for; he even has to pay them to have an after show drink with him at one point.

The expected adoring crowds don’t exactly turn up and the record company scouts are more interested in the genuinely talented aspiring rapper Dom Johnson (Doc Brown) who Brent has guest rap on some of his songs in an effort to make them both ethically friendly and youthful.

The excellent Tom ‘Love & Friendship’ Bennett is great as Brent’s one Lavichem office pal and Diane ‘Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe’ Morgan has a fun cameo as a PR tasked with the impossible job of making Brent ‘cool’.

Doc Brown, though, steals all his scenes with looks to camera of such sheer uncomfortableness that I’d love to see him get his own spin-off movie.

Life On The Road takes mid-life desperation and blows the door off it in fine comic style.

You’ll laugh, you might even cry but be warned you might also very well hurt yourself due to the unsafe levels of cringe.