Director: Ricky Gervais
Cast: Eric Bana, Ricky Gervais, Vera Farmiga, Kelly Macdonald
Watch Special Correspondents online in the UK: Netflix UK
Ricky Gervais is often perceived as a “quintessential funny man” in the eyes of many US comedy viewers, while Brits often think fondly of his earlier characters, such as The Office’s David Brent and Andy Millman from Extras. The programmes (both co-written and directed by fellow funny man Stephen Merchant), which are considered comedy gold in both the UK and US. Following up television with cinema, Gervais starred in a series of films before writing, directing, producing and starring in The Invention of Lying and Cemetery Junction. Now, he teams up with Australian favourite Eric Bana for Netflix’s satirical comedy Special Correspondents.
The film sees Gervais play meek sound engineer Ian, who is forced to team up with arrogant radio journalist Frank Bonneville (Bana) to report from the front line in Ecuador. However, events soon take a slapstick turn for the worse when Ian accidentally misplaces their passports – forcing the duo to fake their own radio report.
The initial plot for Special Correspondents sounds somewhat familiar, resembling the likes of Tropic Thunder and Wag the Dog – not to mention walking the familiar grounds of various screwball comedies, such as Brewster’s Millions and Stir Crazy. The humour that circulates the film exudes more of a comforting humour as opposed to the laugh-out-loud, sarcastic nature that Gervais is notorious for.
Bana does offer a helping hand, constantly becoming riled and infuriated with his clueless, comic-book-loving partner in crime. However, it is safe to say that the star of the show is Vera Farmiga, who plays Gervais’ conceited and greedy wife, Eleanor. The Oscar-nominated actress is best know for her serious roles in The Departed, Up in the Air and the dark television spin-off series Bates Motel and it is therefore rare to see Farmiga in a comedic and satirical role; something the actress should most definitely pursue after this performance. Farmiga’s timing, stance and facial expressions conjure up the majority of the film’s laughs, heightened when Eleanor takes to forming her own singing career.
Special Correspondents does offer some laughs, but unfortunately, apart from Farmiga, occupies mediocre territory – witty seems a more appropriate word than funny.
Special Correspondents is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.