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Special Correspondents (Netflix only)


Stars: Eric Bana, Ricky Gervais, Vera Farmiga, Kelly Macdonald, Kevin Pollak, America Ferrera, Raul Castillo, Benjamin Bratt, Mimi Kuzyk

Director: Ricky Gervais

Netflix original films continues its bright start, although whether you like its cheeky, soundly scripted comedy may depend on your attitude to Ricky Gervais, who wrote it, directed and co-stars, as well as penning an amusingly original song.

A remake of a French film from 2009, the romp features Bana as a reporter who flies by the seat of his pants, and Gervais as his English sound engineer, with a flamboyant wife (Farmiga), who expected more. 'I try my best,' laments Gervais in his typically mournful way. 'But nothing much seems to happen. Perhaps it's because I'm boring.' Fortunately, the movie is anything but boring.

When Gervais is called away from a black-tie dinner for an assignment with the reporter (Macdonald) who adores him, Farmiga loses no time in seducing Bana. Back at their news office, Bana and Gervais are assigned to cover an incipient rebellion in Ecuador. On the way to the airport, Gervais throws away their passports and tickets instead of a letter to the wife who's just left him (I know, it's a stretch), and the pair end up above a New York café run by excitable but dim friends (Ferrera, Castillo), faking the whole trip with the help of Gervais' sound effects, and finally pretending to be held to ransom by Ecuadorian extremists.

Farmiga loses no time in making the most of the situation, launching 'A Dollar for a Hero' campaign to pay the expected ransom demand, and stashing the money in a safe kept by Gervais for his Marvel 'collectibles'.

Crunch comes when the hapless pair really have to travel (without passports) to Ecuador, where they are captured by real bandits...

Not many laughs here, but lots of smiles, with Bana proving himself an adept straight man, Gervais being, well, Gervais in his established persona, and Farmiga making the most of that silly song. What a lead she might make in a new version of Gypsy

Film's end crawl includes credits for 'trailer puppy' and 'swamper'. We're sure they played an integral part in the making of this film.

David Quinlan

Canada 2016. UK Distributor: Netflix. Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 28 Apr 2016