Netflix has never really made a very good feature length film, have they? Well maybe one– Beasts of No Nation– but otherwise nothing else. Several good shows, sure. But only one great feature length film. Special Correspondents is not really much of an exception to this trend. The film has a few funny moments and interesting ideas and concepts, but the weak screenplay and lousy characters make this film hard to watch and easily forgettable. The film is also absolutely awkwardly paced with most of it’s actual story taking place in the last twenty minutes and the rest of the film hinting at plot development, but never really more than hinting. This film is also marketed as a comedy, which seems to be the best fitting genre, but the film did not manage to make me genuinely laugh once.
The film stars Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana as a technician and news reporter respectively. They are sent to Ecuador to report on the country’s crumbling government– or something like that– but they miss their plane and subsequently pretend to be reporting stories from above a coffee shop. These two characters had potential to have a really interesting power dynamic with Gervais’ character being short, chubby, and a ‘failure’ and Bana’s character being the young, cool, and attractive reporter. But this ultimately fails as all the dynamic-based jokes fall remarkably short and are usually replaced by a semi-racist joke aimed at the Latino couple who own the coffee shop. On that topic, the Latino couple played by America Ferrera and Raul Castillo significantly dependent on very basic jokes with mild to medium racist nuances, but they manage to be the funniest part of this film. Vera Farmiga, the Ukrainian Kristen Wiig look-alike, plays the most intricate character in this film which comes off as remarkably sad as her role is ‘wife who takes advantage of husband’ and nothing more than that. And she fails at playing that very simple character. In every scene featuring Farmiga comes off as obviously staged and painfully rehearsed as she doesn’t listen to her fellow cast members as she sputters indigestible dialogue.
The story is awfully paced. Very very awfully. The movie is basically 45 minutes exposition, which is way too much for any film, then 35 minutes of casual jokes and a minor shuffle in plot every now and then, but the last 20 minutes are action packed and (supposed to be) thrilling and exciting, with about a 30 seconds of conclusion. That is not how a fun-to-watch film is paced it also does not offer any chance for the viewers to get acquainted to the characters and storylines. The jokes are also lousy and cliche and do not manage to entertain, humor, or [insert verb with positive connotation]. The screenplay is written by Ricky Gervais (one of the creators of The Office) who also directs and stars in the film. And quite honestly that is fairly disappointing that a writer of such prestigious previous projects. But the most disappointing aspect of this film is that the concept itself could very well have made a very good film, but the screenplay really just ruined what could have been the next Groundhog Day or Little Miss Sunshine.
So what does this film really offer the viewer other than lousy jokes, weird pacing, and disgusting characters. The film fails at everything. That’s really sad and even though the cast may not be the most stellar group of actors but is written by and directed by Ricky Gervais which should have made for a decent film itself. The acting in the film is stiff and lousy and the character are so simple and inhuman and offer no interesting or believable chemistry or dynamics. This film is a waste of everything it took to make and had the screenplay and acting been a little better this story may actually have been good if not great.
Best Aspect- The Latino couple
Worst Aspect- Vera Farmiga
Rating- 2.7/10 or F