It takes a brave man to make a feature film out of a British sitcom – and a braver one still to make one out of a British sitcom that hasn’t been on TV for 13 years. Thankfully, David Brent: Life on the Road gives Ricky Gervais’ monstrous middle manager a decent curtain-call – even if it is a decade too late.
Embracing the cult of non-celebrity that’s ballooned since The Office first poked fun at it in 2001, Gervais finds his alter ego pretty much unchanged. Still trying to be a weekend rock star and still stuck in a dead-end desk job, he jumps at the chance to bring a reality-TV crew along on his first music tour (around Slough).
Operating without his old Office co-stars and attempting his own , Gervais shows almost as much moxy as Brent. The result is a corrosively funny but blatantly overstretched musical spin-off that feels a lot like an off-cut from the show.
As a comedy creation, David Brent is still a masterwork, and the film works best when the pathos hits as hard as the punchlines. But Life on the Road should probably be the leaving party we all thought had been thrown a few times already.