As you heard in our recent The Office episode, I was hugely impressed with the concept this film had hit on for continuing the story of David Brent. Did it live up to my own personal hype? I suppose it kind of did and it didn't.
This stands tall as Ricky Gervais' finest solo effort since he and Stephen Merchant decided to see other people. Sadly, it's still very clear that the two need each other to function to their fullest potential as, in this case, Life on the Road is thinly and lazily plotted as falls into some of the same holes as Derek - namely that Gervais seems to have a perfect grasp of what emotional marks he needs to hit, but, at the same time, doesn't seem to have any understanding of how to get there in a way that feels like it has been legitimately earned.
On top of that, Gervais once again falls back on giving a character a romantic interest with no real involvement in the plot purely to give them a cheap, emotional pay-off at the end of the film.
And, worst of all, the film's emotional stakes pivot around a number of characters completely changing their feelings and their characters for no reason whatsoever other than it serves the plot. This is all the more annoying given how easily the script could have been tweaked to make it work - hell, you could probably just pull it together in the edit.
However, in a film like this, the plotting can arguably take somewhat of a back-seat to the comedy and, thankfully, Life on the Road is very funny. This is hugely thanks to the songs of Brent including the main theme song, also titled "Life on the Road", in which Brent attempts to translate songs about American trucker culture to a country in which you can drive from one side to the other in less than a day, as well as a comedy highlight for myself, "Ain't No Trouble", in which Brent adopts the persona of an old, Jamaican man.
Ultimately, David Brent is a perfectly formed comic creation and seemingly effortless for Gervais to slip into, given how close to the bone he appears to be for himself (case in point: die-hard fans will remember Brent's comedy character, Ho Lee Fuk, as something Gervais invented to upset Karl Pilkington on their radio show over a decade ago). With that in mind, it would have been difficult to completely mess this up. Really, I think you could probably just record Ricky Gervais sitting in a chair in a dark room, in-character, and I'd happily watch it. Oh wait...