Wednesday, July 4, 2018


The Trip (2010): written by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon; directed by Michael Winterbottom: This hilarious fake-reality movie about British comic actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as they take a restaurant tour of the Lake District is a classic of partially improvised buddy movies. 

You'll quote, or at least try to quote, many moments of comic oneupsmanship in which Coogan and Brydon offer duelling versions of Michael Caine. Coogan will be a know-it-all. Brydon will memorize lines of poetry the night before they visit sites associated with Coleridge and Wordsworth. Coogan will bristle at the fact that Brydon is better-known than he is, despite Coogan's critical acclaim for characters that include Alan Partridge. 

The movie was boiled down from a 6-episode BBC miniseries, leaving about 20 minutes of further material out there for you to track down. As is, The Trip is one of the funniest dialogue-centered film comedies ever made, a definite Top 100 pick. And such great shots of gourmet food and scenery! You were only supposed to blow the doors off! Highly recommended.

The Trip To Spain (2017): written by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon; directed by Michael Winterbottom: The third Trip movie (after The Trip (2010) and The Trip To Italy (2014)) finds British comedians and reluctant pals Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon touring restaurants in Spain for a week as part of both an article and Coogan's work on a memoir of his youthful sojourns through Spain. And such great scenery!

Things are a bit more melancholy this time around, with Coogan especially feeling the weight of age and Hollywood disappointment despite the critical and commercial success (including an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay) of Philomena, the Judi Dench movie he adapted and co-wrote and co-starred in prior to this film. As Brydon notes to Coogan's manager when she phones him to ask where Coogan has disappeared to at the end of the film, "Oh, he's probably found a nun and is telling her all about Judi Dench."

Despite that melancholy, there are still many moments of improvised comedy, dueling impressions of people that include Roger Moore and Mick Jagger, a reprise of their duelling Michael Caine bit from The Trip, some musings on dinosaurs and the Spanish Civil War, a call-back to Coogan's obsession with crampons, and a lot of shots of gourmet food and scenery. The last two minutes or so pay off as a riff on the biography of Miguel Cervantes, who has come up a lot in the movie because, you know, Spain. Highly recommended.

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