A simple but clever mash-up – the opening theme of NBC’s "The Office," playing under footage of President Trump and his team – offered a pitch-perfect parody that debuted on Inauguration Day and went viral.
The video, dubbed "The Oval Office," wracks up views, oddly enough, as Ricky Gervais revives David Brent, his attention-hungry middle manager from the original BBC version of "The Office," and elevates him to unexpected heights.
In “Life on the Road,” available Friday on Netflix, Brent, who once took over a workplace training session with an impromptu solo concert, hits the road as a musician. It's a stage where the petty former paper company boss with delusions of showbiz grandeur clearly doesn't belong.
The movie arrives nearly 16 years after Gervais introduced TV audiences to Brent, a cringe-worthy character only slightly harder not to watch than to watch.
He’s clueless, pedantic and laughs at his own bad, usually inappropriate jokes. The self-styled comedian, a singer and benevolent dictator seeks constant applause and reassurance from his employees.
As Brent once declared to the unseen documentary crew he believes can make him a star: “I suppose I’ve created an atmosphere where I’m a friend first, a boss second. Probably an entertainer, third.”
Sure, there’s a heart somewhere beneath his rumpled white dress shirt and tie. But any impulse to feel sorry for Brent is tempered by the power he exercises, sometimes arbitrarily, over his employees.
Steve Carell, star of the U.S. "Office," softened the edges a bit for his bumbling Michael Scott – a necessity for a show that lasted nine seasons (seven featuring Carell) as opposed to the original’s run of 12 episodes and two specials. But the two paper company bosses share more than just a penchant for creating painfully funny awkward moments: They both see themselves as far bigger men than they are (That’s what she said!).
Brent, thanks to Gervais’ dual talent for music and comedy, gets to live his rock star singer-songwriter dream in “Life on the Road.” But unlike the presidential takeoff of the American “Office” opening theme montage, it’s clear to everyone but Brent that the joke is on him.