I just watched 2 films that were essentially the same movie within 24 hours;
They are remarkably similar-
Both are Road Movies,
Both feature a protagonist who is delusional and clinging onto their past
Both are chasing a dream they cannot fulfill
Both are late 90s/ early 2000s characters that were brought back (actually that is every film these days)
Both are Comedies,
Both follow the hero’s journey plot structure
Except there is one big difference- one is really good and one is amusing but clumsily executed.
Woody and David Brent are rather different characters- but essentially in these films, they have the same Hero's journey;
I guess all films revolve around a protagonist coming to a realisation, but having watched these so close together, they just seemed so similar.
With Toy Story 4 there is a much deeper element; the notion of being thrown away and becoming junk (the plastic spork, the antique shop, the defective toy, the toy that a child no longer plays with). Woody is now not wanted by Bonnie, he is desperately trying to remain important, but its over and he needs to learn to accept this. The audience eventually realise Woody is trying too hard, but that is because he has always been right the previous movies so they route for him, and then feel sorry for him- thus when Bo Peep loves him for who he is, not what he is trying to be, it is a beautiful ending.
David Brent is not really wanted anywhere; most people he works with think he is irritating, he is desperately trying to be an entertainer, but needs to accept it is over- this is clear from the start of the film, there are no overarching themes or subtle storytelling, the audience know Brent is a joke and they laugh at him accordingly. Yes, he has something of a resolution and the audience are happy that he has found a potential date who likes him for who he is, but has he earned this?
Both films are funny, both are entertaining, but only 1 is going to make people cry and cheer… and it’s not Life on The Road