When we talk about Ricky Gervais, it’s important (I think) to talk about his strengths and weaknesses as a writer. As a student of human nature and the world, Gervais does an excellent job, and his skillful observations have resulted in magnificent appearances on stage and television. His humor is dark, intelligent and inventive, and he shines in shorter productions where his observations can be central to his comedy.
On the other hand, the special correspondent is an excellent example (like The invention of Lies) for his inability to build a strong narrative on the length of a feature film. His characters are a touch and very simplistic. A boring collection of cartoons inserted into his stories so as not to be anything other than the sounding board of his jokes.
I liked the ideas discussed in the special correspondent, but the entire execution lacked Polish. As if Ricky’s head had escaped too soon before it was properly checked to make sure all parts of the movie puzzle were available before assembly. Dies has led to some lazy observations about traditional media and a fame-hungry audience, and finally made Gervais ‘ limits as an author.
It also did not help that Gervais decided to take care of a heart of gold as a geek radio technician. His character was at the center of this story with the most skin in the game, but he was played as a comic relief for Eric Bana’s Superstar reporter Frank. If someone like Martin Freeman or Simon Pegg (Sherlock, The World’s End) had played this role, the character would probably have been more effective, and the presence of an experienced actor (who also did not direct and write the Film) could have encouraged the rest of the cast and Ricky to improve their acting.
By and large, special correspondents are not a total waste of time. The premise that drives the fun is fun as soon as it begins in the 2nd act, and some of Gervais ‘ observations are hilarious. The cast seems to play along and agree with the material they receive, and the broader comments about the state of our media and the credulity of the audience are clearly (albeit simplified) made.
Ricky Gervais wrote, directed and played the main role in this Film. If you like Ricky Gervais and find him funny, then you will probably like this Movie. It’s so simple.
The Best Time:
Ian Finch (Ricky Gervais) joins Frank to pick up his gear for the trip to Ecuador, and wonders why they can’t get ammoproof pants for their vests. It’s a small Moment in the Film, but frankly, it’s one of the few things I remember clearly after watching.’