Everyone who has ever known me will confirm that I love the Office. For me, David Brent is the ultimate comedy character. But you can have too much of a good thing, and Life On The Road sadly proves it.
I’ll be honest, I’d read some pretty poor reviews before watching at the cinema. I hoped that those reviewers were being overly critical to try and make a name for themselves. Sadly, they weren’t.
Life On The Road lacks everything magical in the Office. The ensemble may be there in physical presence but (Doc Brown) aside, they offer nothing. I think the absence of Tim, Dawn, Gareth and co. was always going to have an impact. However, I didn’t expect it to be quite so clear.
In truth, even the mockumentary style felt a little abandoned at times. Sure, there were some talking head features that produce some of the funnier throwaway lines. But there are long period where it doesn’t feel like a fake documentary. For me, the format just doesn’t translate to the big screen.
The most worrying part of the film, though, is that Brent feels like a tired character. I must admit that some of the YouTube clips posted since the Equality Street video had been a little ‘take it or leave it’ in my opinion. Back in a sitcom / film, I genuinely thought Brent would be back to his best.
Some of the reviews I read suggested that it’s just a case of times moving on, but I don’t think that was the entire issue. If I stick on an Office DVD tonight, I’ll be cracking up. Personally, I felt that the blind spot of comedy wasn’t there. In the series, the humour derives largely from Brent’s delusions. In LOTR, you just feel a little sorry and a lot agitated.
Brent was meant to be a manager, and that misunderstood power was crucial. Without it, he’s just a bit of a knob. I guess there’s also a big difference between being thirty-ni…30-summin, and being in your fifties too. For me, the poor execution of Brent’s best elements is the film’s biggest downfall.
Does Geravais simply miss Merchant’s writing? Is Brent best left for the small screen? Does Brent need to be in an office environment to be funny?
All three factors could be argued, along with various others. Ultimately, though, it all results in a pretty disappointing film. Of course, Gervais still has the ability to produce some fantastically funny moments, but they are far and few between. I’m sure LOTR will make load of money, but it has tainted the legacy of Brent quite a lot.
Even when the film is released on DVD, I’ll be sticking to my Office boxset.