I’m a big fan of Ricky Gervais, and I have been since 2001 watching the original UK series ‘The Office’. Since then I’ve invested in his projects such as further TV works, his animated series, the radio shows, podcasts, stand-up and feature films. It’s clear he’s become America’s favourite comedic import, working across in the US than the UK, so I can say that I’m not a huge fan of the American produced work he writes and directs which primarily caters for the US audience.

Ricky Gervais can write funny material; he can also do emotion very well as he’s proved in the UK sitcom ‘Derek’ and even ‘The Office’ and ‘Extra’s. He also plays his characters as you’d expect from seeing David Brent in 2001 – foot in the mouth, a little cheeky, a buffoon but likeable at heart. He never changes his appearance (facial hair not included) and his accent. You know what you’re getting if Ricky Gervais stars in a film or show, no matter the country it’s made in.

Here, I found him amusing in places but overall the material wasn’t what I may have expected, but it seems he’s adapting his style for, as said before, the American audience. The jokes sometimes are watered down so everyone understands them and the gags are very generic, in fact most things in this are very generic; the bickering leads, the selfish wife, the love-lorn co-worker, the desperate boss, the silly friends. It’s the checklist of basic comedy again, each character having a very specific trait to play on. And Gervais tries to play TOO hard at the down-trodden Brit who has a thing for collecting comics and Marvel figurines and dresses underwhelmingly; is this how he feels best to portray Brits alongside the Ray Ban wearing, slick dressing, confident American portrayed by Bana?

The story is fun enough, working more when we actually get to it and have Bana – a strange arrogance to him that comes across as pathetic to his character rather than charismatic – and Gervais up against it creating a fictional war-torn Ecuador in a dark room using radio equipment and sound effects. From this, it’s a case of them trying to find a way to repair their wrongs when the whole country unites to raise funds to bring them home when they are “kidnapped” and held hostage, just so they don’t have to report back to their boss.

The resolution to all this is a little rushed for me; it’s funny in places, yes, but not Gervais style funny. It’s just…mild comedy funny. It all wraps up in about 15 minutes and just too easy to really buy. It’s as if Gervais finally realised he was running out of time to wrap up the story with a satisfying ending and so knocked out a basic finale where everything comes together quickly and we are supposed to accept it. Done.

Featuring a slew of American comedy talent, Gervais directs them well, but as a fan for 15 years, I don’t feel this is his strength comedy wise. Maybe he’s growing up (finally) and trying to deliver more safe forms of entertainment to the masses, being that this is a Netflix exclusive, and he knows America don’t “get” his David Brent routine. While over here in August we are getting a David Brent movie, full of the gags and quips we are used to seeing form the “British” Gervais.

The “American” Gervais doesn’t amuse me very much, and while I will continue to support his work, it’s not something I look forward too eagerly if this generic comedy is anything to go by.