Parents' Guide to

Special Correspondents

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Lots of profanity, drugs in so-so satire.

Movie NR 2016 101 minutes
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Given writer/director Gervais' comic gifts, this mildly entertaining comedy seems a wasted opportunity to say more, and be funnier about, the state of the news media and human nature in general. As Ian, a self-doubting radio technician, Gervais seems to be taking pains to tamp down his own intrinsic color as a performer. You can sense the effort that being meek and dull takes for Gervais, so it's difficult to forget that, at all times, Ian feels like A Performance. The story is sweet -- a nice guy finishes first this time -- and there are some funny, almost cerebral moments, as when the two enter a seedy dive and hear unpleasant piano sounds. This leads Ian to whine, "Oh, no, jazz," only to find that a man is having his head beaten against a piano keyboard.

There's some significant implausibility to overcome as well. In the effort to fake broadcasts that sound as if they're coming from Ecuador, Ian and Frank project jungle sounds even though they're supposed to be reporting from Quito, a big city. No one at the radio station notices. Overall, an uneven satire that is unlikely to engage most teens.

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