One of the funniest names in comedy, Ricky Gervais has himself another hit in the Netflix produced comedy, Special Correspondents.
Ricky Gervais is one of the most polarizing figures in comedy today. If you’ve listened to him speak, you know he never holds anything back and is always equipped with some witty remark about any situation going on. Or you probably know him for constantly bashing on celebrities at the Golden Globes which is always a fun time (if you’re a fan of him, of course). Ricky has created a fine career for himself as a stand up comedian and performer, but where he may be most underappreciated is his ability to write and direct his own material. From The Office to Extras, he (and Stephen Merchant) has created some of the greatest British comedies on television. So it’s no surprise that Special Correspondents is both funny and enjoyable, even if it’s not the scathing Gervais we’ve all come to enjoy.
Frank Bonneville (Eric Bana) is a reporter who regularly bends and breaks the rules, going whatever length he has to so he can secure a story before any other reporters. While being one of the best in the business, this puts him in hot water at his studio, Q365, where his boss, Geoffrey Mallard (Kevin Pollak), is getting sick of his schtick and threatens to fire him for any future issues. Following alongside Frank, Ian Finch (Ricky Gervais) is a long time sound operator who practically fawns over his partner and the work he’s able to do.
A story then comes in about some civil unrest in Ecuador, and Mallard wants Frank to cover the story and show that he can be a real reporter instead of a hack. Frank decides to bring Ian along, in case of any mechanical issues and the two set off to head to Ecuador. But things hardly ever run so smoothly and somewhere along the way Ian loses the tickets, passports, and money to get the duo to Ecuador. Fearing he may lose his job, Frank refuses to own up to the mistake and two come up with an entirely different plan to avoid getting caught. This plan? Hide out in an apartment across the street from their radio station and falsely report the news while creating the world of Ecuador in an attic.
Special Correspondents doesn’t rely on any one thing in particular to be successful, but it’s just a quality film in every aspect. Eric Bana, who for some reason isn’t in very many comedies, does a great job in the lead role and Gervais is basically himself for 3/4th of the movie which is always a joy. But the film shines anytime Vera Farmiga, America Ferrera, and Raul Castillo are on screen. Farmiga is given the chance to be completely ridiculous and awful, and she just chews up every scene she’s in. With Ferrara and Castillo, the two are in every scene with each other and there’s no doubt people may find their portrayals to be slightly offensive, but they commit 100% to their characters and they make for some of the most memorable sequences in the film.
From start to finish, Special Correspondents doesn’t let up on the laughs. It’s rare to see a film where every cast member is clicking but no one misses a beat, and you can tell the cast is just having a good time. The scathing, foul mouthed version of Gervais that we’ve seen the last few years takes a back seat for the more self-deprecating version we’ve seen in Gervais’ past work. But with Special Correspondents, this is the version of Gervais that drives the film forward and brings the highest level of entertainment.
Special Correspondents is written and directed by Ricky Gervais and stars Eric Bana, Gervais, Vera Farmiga, Kevin Pollak, Kelly MacDonald, Benjamin Bratt, America Ferrera, and Raul Castillo. Special Correspondents will be on Netflix to stream on April 29, 2016.
We screened the film at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.