David Brent – Life on the Road
Posted on August 24, 2016
I went out with both my boys (or young men) for the first time in ages tonight to watch David Brent-Life on the Road, the follow up to Slough’s alter-ego David Brent, who was last seen in The Office, some 13 years ago.
Ricky Gervais has had ups and downs since The Office, with a few ordinary films amongst some excellent TV productions such as ‘Extras’ and the wonderful ‘Derek’ which could melt a heart made of granite and brought tears to my eyes on a weekly basis. All in all though, I would say the boy from Whitley Wood has done okay.
The reason I am a biased champion of Ricky Gervais, the creator of David Brent, is that he was born in the same town as me (Reading) he used to drink in the same kind of places as me (Majestics and the Round Head) and his first production, ‘The Office’, was based upon the type of people I have worked with in an office environment in the past.
In that way, it makes me a hopeless reviewer of the movie, however, if you enjoyed The Office, I can guarantee that you will also enjoy this film. It picks up on Brent’s life as he recovers from breakdowns and eating disorders to galvanise himself into having one last push at becoming a pop star, utilising funds from pensions he took out in the 90’s and are ‘now worth nearly as much as I put into them’.
Brent, now working as a Sales Rep for cleaning supplies company, Lavichem, uses his pension funds to employ a producer and session musicians as he tours Berkshire in a bid to galvanise support and a potential record deal for his songs that are so dreadful they are brilliant.
With success hard to come by, he employs a PR agent and even manages to get himself an interview on the radio which, sadly, only ends up with him playing a game of ‘Pie or Sausage’ on Tadley FM, as his single ‘Lady Gypsy’ plays in the background.
Tadley FM fail to promote his band at all and he only scores 1 out of 10 on ‘Pie or Sausage’ as the debts mount and the audiences fail to materialise. At one gig, he asks the manager to open the doors, to which he replies “they are open.”
Lady Gypsy by David Brent
The film then becomes quite heartwarming as the producer and band members who initially detested him (they even charged him for having drinks after the gigs) gradually realise that although he is a sad case, all he is doing is trying to escape from his pathetic life and as a consequence, they learn to love him…or a least like him.
Fortunately, this is not some awful Richard Curtis concoction, so David Brent doesn’t become a pop star, ending back at his desk as a Sales Rep for Lavichem, enduring ridicule from the majority of his fellow employees. What is poignant though, is the moment he turns to the office bully and says that whilst he may be a Sales Rep forever, at least he had a go at living his dream.
David Brent is a prat, but for those of us who have worked in that kind of environment, unlike the climbers and backstabbers in the world of office politics, he is actually a harmless prat. Personally speaking, I walked away from office life not because of people like David Brent, more because of wankers who picked on people like him to make themselves look clever.
This film is not a classic of our time but in my opinion, Ricky Gervais is just a bloke from Reading who, with a bit of luck, hard graft and a thick layer of skin, managed to get somewhere (despite his humble beginnings) by taking his chances. David Brent is the hopeless underdog that Ricky Gervais would have been without the breaks, so that should offer every mortal at least some hope in a country where opportunity in music, acting and the media, thrives on nepotism and is perpetually hijacked by Old Etonians.
Gervais is a marmite character really, some (like me) can forgive him for ‘The Special Correspondents’ and enjoy the good material he produces, whilst others dismiss him without trial because he didn’t go to the Oxbridge School of Thespian Excellence.
Those who love the establishment need not wait too long as ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ comes out (excuse the pun) in the autumn, written by Richard Curtis and starring Colin Firth and Emma Thompson…or as they are widely known in the Lethaby household, Richard ‘Fucking’ Curtis, Emma ‘Fucking’ Thompson and Colin ‘Fucking’ Firth.
No doubt with huge finances and actors from the halls of Cambridge and Oxford, it will be supremely produced like only the best London/Cotswold movie can be, however, as my youngest son embarks on university life without any such privileges, it is people from humble beginnings like Ricky Gervais who can offer inspiration, not Richard ‘Fucking’ Curtis.
I enjoyed David Brent -Life on the Road, but as I said earlier, I have a host of reasons to be biased, one being my love of the underdog.