Certificate: 15

Running Time: 96 mins

Star Rating: 4/5

OUR pleasure is Ricky Gervais' self-inflicted pain in David Brent: Life On The Road, a toe-curling faux documentary comedy that catches up with the politically incorrect title character as he embarks on a quest for musical nirvana with his band, Foregone Conclusion. Life and art are blurred in Gervais' script, which plays like a cover version of his award-winning TV series The Office, replete with a wince-inducing scene of dad dancing that is supposed to attract the fairer sex.

Without The Office co-writer Stephen Merchant to rein in his self-indulgence behind the camera, Gervais puts his middle-aged misfit centre stage for every excruciating set piece. Consequently, some of the supporting players are thinly sketched and a gossamer thin romantic subplot is almost surplus to requirements.

It has been 12 years since David Brent (Gervais) awkwardly ruled the roost at the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg Paper Company. He's now a travelling salesman at Lavichem, peddling sanitary products with gusto and irritating his work colleagues, including office bully Jezza (Andrew Brooke) and HR manager Miriam (Rebecca Gethings). Brent takes unpaid leave from his unedifying day-to-day grind to pursue his dream of music stardom as lead singer of his unsigned band.

David Brent: Life On The Road is peppered with uproarious one-liners and moments of skin-crawling brilliance that confirm Gervais as a master of unflattering observation. Music performances include the stand-out track Native American and a reprise of the 2013 Comic Relief song, Equality Street. The mockumentary conceit isn't consistent and the sentimentality of the band's final performance feels contrived, but it's nice to have some sweetness to cut through the film's acidic brand of humour.