A trailer released today gives us a peek at Ricky Gervais and the special brand of dark wit he’s bringing to an original Netflix movie with Eric Bana. Special Correspondents finds the two stars teaming up as radio journalists – Bana is blowhard reporter Frank, Gervais is his technician Finch – who decides to fake frontline war reports from a hideout in New York. “I think we’re so better off here in New York than in Ecuador — we’ve got wine, snacks, not being shot at,” says Gervais in the trailer.
But when their competition (Benjamin Bratt) reports them missing from Ecuador (which natch, they are) they have to hustle down to the war zone to stop the search and save their jobs. Trouble ensues.
Aside from the obvious question: What’s a guy like Eric Bana doing working in radio(?) the matter of Gervais as a war correspondent is just ripe for humor. In the trailer he queries a man handing out PRESS vests, “Are these bulletproof vests? Have you got bulletproof pants? Otherwise what’s the point?” But I also note that of between he and Bana he is the only one doing any shooting, and it looks like he knows how.
The trailer doesn’t tell us much besides the basic plot sketch and it does fall a bit flat. It primarily seems to be a vehicle to spark interest in a star-studded cast, including Vera Farminga, Kevin Pollak, Kelly Macdonald, and America Ferrera in what is hopefully not a grossly insulting role.
There are a few understated chuckles, as when a clueless Frank describes the scene in Ecuador with “The desert sand has brought the city to a standstill.” Finch corrects him, “I think we need more information because I’m pretty sure sand isn’t a big problem in Ecuador.” In other words this isn’t Tropic Thunder.
Gervais wrote and directed the film and production was handled by Vancouver’s Bron Studios. The comedian has made his home at Netflix since 2012 with his quirky series Derek, about a simple-but-kindly care worker in a home for the elderly. That show has drawn criticism for its portrayal of mental health conditions but has also garnered award nominations from the Golden Globes and Primetime Emmys. The freedom to push the envelope is probably one of the reasons the outspoken Gervais enjoys working with Netflix; it’s possible some of that humor – which can be alternately cynical and wise or dismissive and indulgent – will show up in Correspondents.
Deadline reveals that the new flick will debut on April 29.