David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)

What makes David Brent the ultimate creation of Ricky Gervais is that we can all relate to him. We have all at one time in our lives been David Brent. All of us want to be liked, and accepted, and appreciated. We all want friends, and family, and some place to call home. We all have something we want to offer the world, and some kind of unfulfilled desire that we wish we could bring out for everyone to see. Ricky Gervais’ “Life on the Road” is a great sequel to the original BBC “The Office” but thankfully it’s not a movie you have to have seen the show to understand. While there are a ton of mentions of the original series, “Life on the Road” is about Gervais’ anti-hero, the man known as David Brent who has spent most of his life chasing the idea of being liked and accepted, but has no idea how to achieve it.

Set twelve years after the original show ended, the original crew for the series meets up with David once again to see what he’s been doing. Who can blame them? David is a fascinating human being, even when he’s making you cringe and running for the doors in horror. Brent is working once again in an office but as a sales Rep for a cleaning product company. Convinced he has yet to his make his mark as a musician, he decides to tour across the UK with his band “Foregone Conclusion.” They include a bunch of really frustrated rock musicians, and Dom Johnson (A very good Doc Brown), an aspiring hip hop artist, and put upon friend, who tags along with David in hopes of finding his own fame. While Gervais and co. opt for a lot of cringe inducing and awkward comedy that made the original “The Office” so hilarious, there’s so much more included to give the character of Brent a lot of depth and complexity.

Gervais adds a thin undercoating of tragedy to his character, as Brent talks for minutes on end about literally nothing. When we see him at a therapist, it’s shocking how we realize he uses talking non-stop about nothing as a defense mechanism to shield his vulnerability. When he finally does manage to stop and talk about his life after the show, there’s a heartbreaking explanation about him sinking in to depression, obesity, and even thoughts about suicide. What’s even sadder is that his insecurities make it impossible for him to see who in his life actually like him, and that he doesn’t need to do much of anything to be liked by people. There’s a particularly sweet moment where the crew interview two female workers at his office (the very charming Mandeep Dhillon, and Jo Hartley), both of whom he speaks with every morning.

Though they seem incredibly irritated by him upon the first introduction, we eventually learn there’s much more to their relationship with David than meets the eye. There’s also an especially somber moment of clarity when David is at the end of his tour that speaks sounds about the character and how sadly misguided he is. For folks hoping for a reunion of “The Office,” you will not get it here. If you’re interested in seeing what David Brent has done after the original series ended, you’ll be pleasantly entertained as the follow up is funny, sweet, and occasionally heartbreaking.