Saturday movie review: Special Correspondents

Not long ago, my husband and I saw a Graham Norton Show (our favorite talk show) episode in which his guests included Eric Bana and Ricky Gervais. They were plugging the upcoming release of their Netflix original feature film, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS, written and directed by Ricky Gervais. From the giggles and guffaws their banter elicited from the host and other guests — as well as my husband and myself — I figured the comedy would be a fun diversion and quickly added it to my queue.

We finally got around to watching it last week, and it was indeed a fun diversion. Far different from most everything else in my Netflix queue, but far more fun, for sure.

special correspondents netflix film

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS stars Eric Bana as Frank Bonneville, a self-absorbed radio journalist who hasn't reached the career heights he hoped for and believes he deserves. Problem being primarily himself and his narcissistic tendencies. When Frank is dispatched to cover a rebel coup in Ecuador, he reluctantly enlists sound tech Derek Finch (Gervais) to go along with him. The rather hapless Finch, being in a tizzy as his gorgeous, malcontent wife Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) has kicked him to the curb after sleeping with an unknown other — the other being Bana, who had no idea Eleanor was Finch's wife — accidentally throws their travel documents in the garbage.

Screwball silliness ensues as Frank and Finch concoct a coup-scooping, job-saving plan to dupe their boss as well as the country and Eleanor takes advantage of the situation to further, no, create her career. Then they must untangle the wacky web they've woven.

I must admit that at the outset of viewing, considering Gervais' reputation and comedy specials, I feared the film just might delve into potty humor of some sort. But, no, the "balls" versus "breasts" comment in the trailer is about as crass as SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS gets.

In the acting role of Gervais' triple-duty outing (writer/director/actor), his Finch comes off as an under appreciated yet self-aware sad sack who deserves more in life, including a more caring, kind, and faithful wife. Gervais has a way of wrapping up snippets of hurt with shots of humor that endear me to him much of the time, but especially so as Finch. Thankfully someone — Kelly Macdonald as his colleague Claire — appreciates Finch and counters the disparaging comments and actions shamefully piled upon him by Eleanor and Frank (who have no love for one another, to be sure).

Bana's super-suave — in his own mind... well, and minds of some adoring females — Frank kept me chuckling as he was so darn unapologetically smarmy and full of himself. I had no idea Bana could play comedy so well.

Same goes for Vera Farmiga. How she played Eleanor with a straight face, I just don't know. Particularly when singing her anthem for the heroes. So, so funny. And such proof of her acting chops.

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS kept my husband and me laughing. Yet the farcical tale resonated as we marveled over how very true the manner in which the media can twist and turn and cheat their way through the news — and we viewers soak it up in sheep-like fashion. Especially if there's a catch, heart-grabbing tune attached to turn a tragic event into a money-making national sensation. (Bravo again, Farmiga!)

There's heart, there's humor, there's Ricky Gervais in fine form — and Eric Bana and Vera Farmiga in forms I never suspected. And there's fun. Bottom line: There's not much to not like about SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS.

Here, Seth Myers interviews the always entertaining Ricky Gervais about the comedy:


SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS (rated TV-MA) is a Netflix original feature film, streaming on Netflix since April 29, 2016.