The Office was a BBC comedy series that ran between 2001 and 2003. There were only ever two series made, plus two Christmas specials – just fourteen episodes in total. Life on the Road is a spin-off film starring the series main character – cringe-worthy boss David Brent. You can watch the trailer here.
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (co-writers of The Office) were always adamant that they didn’t want to ruin the programme by having it go on too long, inevitably ruining it as each series gets lamer and lamer (e.g Only Fools & Horses). So I was surprised when I heard there was going to be a new ‘David Brent’ movie fourteen years after the original show. Surprised, nervous and not wholly convinced.
The thing about The Office is it’s so utterly perfect. And not only was it perfect, but it ended perfectly (any true fan will tell you that). The Christmas special was so funny but also wrapped things up really well. From telling Chris Finch to fuck off, to the long awaited union of Dawn and Tim – it was touching, unforgettable and flawless.
I should warn you, I’m a huge fan of The Office (MEGA FAN) so probably the worst person to remain neutral about this film. I hate being The Negative Person, I really do. I don’t enjoy being critical about something that other people are excited about. Just the other day I knew I was pissing someone off with my slightly pessimistic view but I can’t help that this movie doesn’t really feel right.
And that’s the best way I can explain it – it doesn’t feel right. One of my ‘Office pals’ on Twitter (we’ve spent hours trading quotes) summed it up when he said “it’s almost as if he’s trying too hard to play him, in the early days it seemed so natural” and that’s true. David has always been an embarrassing, hapless guy but in the original series it was so realistic. Perhaps it doesn’t help that Gervais is more famous now, back in 2001 no-one who he was (and he still had his classic British teeth).
You could call it a compliment to the original programme because there’s nothing really wrong with making this film and it probably will be good but The Office was so-fucking-amazing, how can it ever again be that-fucking-amazing? Is it necessary and is it worth it? It’s not that I think the film looks awful even. Ricky Gervais is a talented man and David Brent felt familiar in the trailer (as awkward, embarrassing and ridiculous as ever) but something – which is hard to put my finger on – just wasn’t the same. Still, until its cinema release, all I can do is speculate. And believe it or not I would love to be wrong!
So anyway, trying my hardest to remain impartial here’s 10 things you should know about Life on the Road –
1. It’s not a “The Office” movie, it’s very much a “David Brent” movie – in which David tries to re-start his music career with old band Foregone Conclusion. Forget about Wernham Hogg.
2. As such, no-one from the original cast (except Gervais obviously) will be in it. Boo.
3. However there are some great British actors involved, no-one huge (we’re not talking Gary Oldman or Ian McKellen) but likable faces from the British comedy circuit, including actor / rapper / comedian Doc Brown, who I really like (and starred with Gervais on Equality Street).
4. It’s set fifteen years after The Office ended, so pretty much in sync with ‘real time’.
5. David has a nemesis! A proper one this time (I’m not sure Neil ever valued him enough as an equal to be a PROPER nemesis in The Office) and if it’s one thing that cracks me up in comedy, it’s someone with a nemesis. So ‘Jezza’ played by Andrew Brooke could be a cool addition.
6. Horrifyingly (this is quite important) Stephen Merchant is NOT co-writing as he did with The Office and their other collaborations. Though Gervais is the “face” of The Office, Merchant was half the genius. Slightly more industrious and professional than Gervais (by their own admission) it will be interesting to see how the writing of the film differs from the TV series. I don’t doubt that Gervais is a great writer, but The Office was a long time ago and circumstances are very different.
7. Life on the Road is released here in the UK on August 19th 2016.
8. Interestingly, there will be an official soundtrack to the film with songs written by Ricky Gervais. Most of us are aware he used to wear 80s make-up and be in a band and IS actually a pretty good musician. Anyone who’s seen episode 4, series 1 of The Office will know that David Brent with guitar in hand, is a very good thing indeed.
9. There will also be a book released a week before the film called ‘The David Brent Songbook’. As well as humorous pics and excerpts, the book will also contain the sheet music of the songs in the film, which is pretty cool.
10. And just to make sure we end on a positive note, there was something that genuinely made me laugh in the trailer – hearing David’s cackle. Man I love his cackle (and that isn’t a British euphemism for penis).