Special Correspondents is anything but.

 

ricky-gervais-special-correspondents-netflixConsidering the overall success Ricky Gervais has, he remains a polarising figure. While there are those that see him as a comic genius, some see him as a smug unfunny git while others think he’s a one trick pony. Despite being responsible, with Stephen Merchant, for some of the greatest TV this side of the millennium, he hasn’t made the same impact on the big screen. His new film Special Correspondents, a remake of the French film Envoyés très spéciaux, sees him writing, directing and co-starring. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on. Although he’s accompanied by a great cast including Eric Bana and Vera Farmiga, Special Correspondents doesn’t live up to the potential of its premise.

Ian Finch (Gervais) is the downbeat loser we’ve come to associate Gervais’ onscreen personality with. He’s the sound technician to Frank Bonneville (Bana), a handsome and charismatic radio journalist with a devil may care attitude and a pinch of sleaze. Frank and Ian are assigned to Ecuador to cover an uprising but Ian, being the lovable idiot, accidentally throws away the passports and plane tickets. Rather than fess up, the hapless duo inexplicably decide to hide above a restaurant and broadcast their reports as if they’re in Ecuador. Hilarity should ensue, but it doesn’t quite get there.

This isn’t Gervais’s first time in the director’s chair but it is his first feature solo mission having co-directed on previous films. Gervais is a great writer but he doesn’t tell a great story from behind the camera with pedestrian directing and a meandering plot that results in an unconvincing comedy and amateur looking third act.

Special correspondents reviewThere is an underlying satire of the news industry that runs through the script but unlike previous work, it never boils to the top. It’s too subtle in the wrong places and when it does up its game it comes across as a dumb parody; the notable exceptions being Farmiga’s self-serving egotist and America Ferrara’s humorous buffoonery. Instead too much focus is put on the wackiness as Gervais tries too hard to appeal to as wide an audience as possible rather than focus his sharp wit to his trusted fan base.

Released exclusively on Netflix, Special Correspondents never feels cinematic and looks like a next gen direct to video release. It’s not without its jokes but it never takes the chances that Gervais is known for he plays it safe resulting in flat an uninspired comedy.

Thomas Simpson
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