Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Movie review: David Brent: Life on the Road - it was not great but ...

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Well, it could have been worse. Like Absolutely Fabulous the movie bad or Mrs Browns Boys D' Movie bad.

It could have done drag-in-celeb things like bring on Ali G as a guest rapper (because there is a guest rapper). Or have Ricky Gervais' David Brent of The Office in an encounter with Steve Carrel's Michael Scott of The Office (the US remake), which would have been like old Spock meeting new Spock in Star Trek.

As it is, in its own BBC-TV-show-afterthought kind of way, David Brent: Life on the Road is more in the league of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa - a mildly satisfying final encore for a prickly Brit comedy character that its creator will never top.

One problem with Brent's encore, though, is that he's come back solo. The other characters of The Office aren't involved. Neither is the show's co-writer Stephen Merchant.

So just as Gervais has left his old band behind, his Brent is out solo with a bunch of hired hands who can't replace the chemistry of old.

Most of the supporting characters are indistinguishable session musos, whom Brent, now a rep as a hygiene products company, pays out of a cashed-up pension fund to play as his band Foregone Conclusion, that name a clue as to the success of his plans to tour his way into a record deal.

So there ain't nothing going on but the Brent. That can get taxing, especially as Gervais originally created him as a character made funny by his middle-management delusions.

Here, Gervais seems to want to make us root for him as an amiable buffoon pursuing his dreams in the only way he knows how - pathetically. And armed with a big bunch of songs that are mostly overlong Gervais gags set to music.

It's fitfully funny though when the mockumentary of old meets last-gasp rockumentary, especially care of Ben Bailey Smith, who plays a guest rapper in Foregone Conclusion and Brent's token black mate. He's a show-stealer both off stage and on - and his delivery of a joke about UB40 is worth half a star by itself.

Movie: David Brent: Life on the Road
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith
Director: Ricky Gervais
Rating: M (offensive language, sexual references, content that may offend)
Running Time: 96 mins
Verdict: The Office meets Spinal Tap, almost.

- TimeOut

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