Ricky Gervais / Ricky Gervais, Eric Bana, Vera Farmiga, Kevin Pollak / Comedy / 2016 / 15 / 100mins

Ricky Gervais’s Netflix exclusive is a comedy. At least, it tries to be…

This film can’t decide whether it’s satirical or just the biggest pile of screenshit ever.

Adapted from the French film of the same name, Gervais’s version sees New York radio journalist bigshot Frank Bonneville (Eric Bana) cover the emerging civil war in Ecuador. He takes sound engineer Ian Finch (Ricky Gervais) who has recently split from his wife (Vera Farmiga). Ian accidentally bins the tickets… gee, how will they get to Ecuador?

TWIST ALERT, they don’t. They stay in an apartment across the street from the radio station and fake it… before backtracking and going AWOL from that and making haste for Ecuador (the set design being a lazy copout of Just Cause) with the most pathetic montage this century (a wind farm and a church cross are highlights) to prove legitimate. Soooo half the film could have been avoided. There’s nothing I hate more than that. STRIKE NO.1

In reality, the plot could have had potential if the characters weren’t so diabolical. I can’t relate to anyone. Gervais’s character, British for convenience, is a ‘bad person’ because he plays video games and likes comic books. That was so last decade, Ricky. He also has random and inexplicable spur of the moment decisions that, surprise, go awry. As for the wife: she’s a sadistic self-invested cash freak. It’s an overkill of villainous characteristics. Oh, and she’s a musical genius to boot, because why not? AND ANOTHER – the lovely immigrant couple, Brigida and Domingo, who generously house the lead protagonists, are uncannily dim. Erm, do I detect a slight stereotype card, circa 1950? Immigrants aren’t stupid.

Considering the cast, the acting is equally diabolical. The chemistry between Gervais and Bana is weak – safely one of the worst casting pairs in history. Everyone seems to be acting for the sake of acting – getting a nice salary and having fun with mates. Even the last lines are: “This is like the end of a movie”, “A low budget movie!” as the camera fades to the sound of laughter. HAR HAR. YES, FUNNY. Is the joke on us? Have we been epically trolled?

At the end of the day, Special Correspondents doesn’t know what type of comedy it is: is it Gervais’s usual dry, awkward wit, or pathetic screwball lunacy? If the director doesn’t know, then God help us.

I think Gervais fans will be more disappointed than someone who stumbles across Special Correspondents. Your mum & dad, particularly, might have an appetite. Shame they don’t know what an app is, let alone Netflix. I’m inclined to think that, if this indeed one giant troll, then Gervais is a genius, but I have my doubts. I’m calling his bluff here: this is a terrible film.

Film as a Film – 1 / Target Audience – 2 / General Audience – 2




For more film & music gossip follow @THEMOVIEGUVNOR on Twitter, or like Harry Crawford on Facebook. Harry also writes for The Huffington Post.

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Fair use, via Wikipedia.

This is a poster for Special Correspondents. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the item promoted, Netflix / Stage 6 Films, the publisher of the item promoted or the graphic artist.


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