"Utterly hilarious - just so, Gervais"
Ricky Gervais is an acquired taste some might say, or a comedic mastermind depending on what mood you’re in. Albeit, through standup comedy, writing, and his fabulously cringe-worthy performance as the one and only David Brent in The Office; there is no doubt about it, this is one is clever. Now, lending his expertise to the ever-growing Netflix, Special Correspondents is not only directed and written by the man but it also stars Gervias as the slightly depressive, comic book geek sound technician, Ian Finch.
As we are thrust into a crime scene, whereby radio journalists Frank Bonneville (Eric Bana) and Claire Maddox (Kelly MacDonald) are weaseling their way in with juvenile fake names and a teddy bear’s plastic police badge, the overall cheeky tone of this man’s work is set once more. Immediately creating a perfect equilibrium between dull (Finch’s dull attitude and Frank’s over-confident reporter), the two make an unlikely pair when they are asked to cover a story in war-torn Ecuador. But hours before being asked to cover the story, Finch’s showy wife Eleanor decides to divorce him. He resorts to the company of his endearingly thick café owner friends Brigida (America Ferrera) and Domingo (Raul Castillo) whilst pouring his feelings into a letter in the hope of winning her back. In a fluster of deciding against handing it over he mistakenly throws away their passports and tickets – d’oh!
Honing in on people’s worst nightmare of turning up the airport with nothing but your luggage, the down-in-the-dumps Finch comes up with the genius idea of using his sound engineering skills and creating a war torn Quito from Brigida and Domingo’s spare room across the road from the news studio. And for a while, it works. As things get a little out of hand as they fake being kidnapped by rebels to get the best news story, Finch’s wife wastes no time and firmly positions herself in the limelight, launching an A Dollar for a Hero campaign for her dear husband. Being rather successful in convincing the world that they have indeed been kidnapped, this is escalated to the White House and an extraction mission put in place. That’s all well and good, if they were actually in Ecuador. Smuggling themselves into the country with stolen ‘A Dollar for a Hero’ cash, nothing can quite prepare you for the ludicrous, cocaine-fueled events that are about to occur.
Unlike Gervais’ seemingly boring Finch, this is a thoroughly enjoyable film. With a countless amount of laugh-out-loud moments that will leave you catching your breath - this is perhaps the feature film break-through that he deserves. Giggles emerge whenever Ferrera and Castillo appear on screen as the two give one hell of an expressive performance (stereotypes, eyebrows, and all). Bana brings the all-American flare to his ego-consumed Frank, whilst Farmiga is a cross between a deranged Norma Bates and her nothing-but-guts Alice in Closer to the Moon. Gervais plays his character down well throughout; leading to his eventual, and inevitable, '15 minutes' as he spectacularly 'saves the day'. One can’t help but think the whole situation could have been avoided if they just went back to see if the passports, tickets, and cash were still there, but what we get is a thoroughly enjoyable film due to Finch’s incompetence.
A predictable affair nonetheless, Special Correspondents reverts to such a tactic that makes the jokes and gags all the more humorous. Not to mention its highly amusing, sickeningly patriotic song that Vera Farmiga performs well to get through it with a straight face. Special Correspondents is a quirky little film, utterly hilarious, and a very Ricky Gervais type of movie.