Condensed from the BBC-2 TV series, Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip features brilliant improvisation between his stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. 4.5/5
The late film critic Gene Siskel once said the litmus test for any film was whether it was more entertaining than watching the cast sit around a table chatting.
The Trip, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, actually features its stars sitting around a table chatting. The Michael Winterbottom film – edited from the BBC 2 mini-series – follows these two gents as they eat, drink and try not to kill each other across the north of England. And yes, it’s very entertaining.
Michael Winterbottom Directs Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in BBC/Alliance’s The Trip
When famous actor/comedian Steve Coogan (Steve Coogan) is asked by The Observer to go on a restaurant tour of Northern England, he sees it as a chance to have a paid vacation with his foodie girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley). But when Mischa backs out, saying their relationship needs a break, he’s forced to bring his best pal, fellow comedian Rob Brydon (Rob Brydon), along.
Packed into a Range Rover (Range Rover), these two seeming best friends wine, dine, bicker and try to one-up one another through countless high-class restaurants and inns throughout England.
Fans of Michael Winterbottom will swiftly recognize that The Trip is an extension of his 2006 film Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (which you can stream at 123movies for free). Brydon and Coogan played thinly fictionalized versions of themselves in that film, and they do the same here. Coogan is the freewheeling bastard, desperate to become a big Hollywood star but realizing that life is passing him by (“I’ve been 41 for three years now!” he tells his agent) even as he seduces a string of barmaids, waitresses and hotel clerks. Brydon is more grounded: less ambitious but happy with his wife and infant daughter. Coogan mocks Brydon’s seeming lack of ambition and his success with his ‘Small Man in a Box’ joke, but is secretly jealous of his friend.
Much of their dialogue is improvised, whether it’s competing celebrity impressions (Michael Caine, Woody Allen and Christoph Waltz get spoofed a lot) or trying to undermine and one-up each other in front of friends, associates and even Coogan’s parents.
This film could have been the worst kind of vanity project but Winterbottom, Brydon and Coogan are smart enough to keep things rolling along. Their improvised riffing is hilarious and there’s enough drama and moments of quiet contemplation to keep things interesting. Be aware that this film is very British: if you have absolutely no bloody clue who Richard Hammond is, then the humour will sail over your head.
The Trip is a Fun Ride
Some will argue that the six-episode BBC-2 series is a lot more interesting and delves more into these characters’ personalities than the movie. But if you haven’t seen the mini-series you won’t notice anything missing. The Trip gets a 4.5/5.