Back to IndieWire

‘David Brent: Life on the Road’ Critical Roundup: Ricky Gervais’ Infamous ‘Office’ Character Has Critics Split

Critics are mixed about David Brent's return to the screen.

David Brent: Life on the Road

“David Brent: Life on the Road”

Netflix/Entertainment One

It’s been more than a decade since audiences became obsessed with Ricky Gervais’ “The Office” character, David Brent. Now, the former paper salesman returns in the new film “David Brent: Life on the Road,” about the worst boss ever’s efforts to go on a self-funded tour with his band Foregone Conclusion, all the while still a traveling salesman. But are critics excited for the return of Gervais’ most iconic character? Here’s what they’re saying.

Variety’s Catherine Bray wrote, “Ricky Gervais’ most enduring creation hits the road for one last attempt at cracking showbiz, in a funny if meandering big-screen adventure.” She adds, “It’s a recipe for humor and conflict which, judging by the home-turf success of other recent theatrical transplants of U.K. sitcoms should have no trouble connecting with the original show’s sizable fanbase.”

Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter wasn’t a huge fan of the film writing: “Much of ‘Life on the Road’ feels like the debut solo album by the lead singer of a once successful band, who is now surrounded by paid session musicians unwilling to challenge the boss over his substandard, self-indulgent coasting. Which, ironically, is pretty much the plot of this film. David Brent remains an enduring comic grotesque, but this sporadically amusing big-screen resurrection is more cash-in reunion tour than killer comeback album.”

READ MORE: ‘David Brent: Life on the Road’ Trailer: Ricky Gervais Revives His ‘Office’ Character For Mock Rock Doc

“If Gervais was working with more resources here than he was 13 years ago, there’s zero evidence of it on screen,” stated The Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin. “Happily, what’s in no short supply is the same mix of uproarious failure and sledgehammer pathos that Brent at his best was always all about.”

The Guardian’s Henry Barnes gave the comedy 2 out of 5 stars noting, “‘Life on the Road’ works largely as a reminder of Gervais’s skill with this character’s tics – the whinnying laugh, the lip bit too late, that drowning stare to camera as he realizes what he’s just said. At its best it carries the tradition of the little man struggling against his own confines. At its worst – some weak gags about fat people, a couple of moments where Brent’s too stupid for his back story – it’s small, shabby and outdated.” He adds. “There were braver things that Gervais could have done with the character. The bravest being leaving him where he was.”

READ MORE: Ricky Gervais’ ‘Special Correspondents’ Review: Netflix’s Comedy Woes Continue

Matt Glasby of GQ UK appreciated the good and the bad. “It’s frustrating, yet the inspired moments, such as the earnest/constipated look on Gervais’ face as he sings, ‘Oooh Native American, fly like an eagle, sit like a pelican’ are priceless.” The critic also notes that “it’s not perfect, but if an extended episode of ‘The Office’ is what you’re after, you’re in for a treat.”

Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , ,