By Gary Murray
Starring and written by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Running time 111 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating: Cable
The Trip is not the 1967 Peter Fonda/Dennis Hopper flick, nor is it a remake of that LSD film. This new The Trip is from the team that gave us Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
The story is of Steve (Steve Coogan) an actor who has been contracted by the Observer to review a series of six different meals in six fine restaurants in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. When his girlfriend decides not to go with him, he has to take another actor friend Rob (Rob Brydon). Rob is married, with a young kid, but still knows a thing or two about the finer things of life. Rob has recently become popular on television with a character ‘the man in the box’.
Though never spoken, Steve is the more successful actor but Rob is the better performer. It feels as though Steve is simply jealous of Rob. While Steve can get the occasional carnal visit with different women who want to be with a celebrity, he seems jealous of the simple family joys that Rob experiences.
There is not much of a plot in The Trip. It is two guys going from town to town eating duck and other delicious dishes from five star eateries. They get lost and bicker like an old married couple.
The parts of the film where the two are just eating are some of the funniest bits seen on the screen this year. The two actors try to outdo each other with impersonations of celebrities such as Michael Caine and Woody Allen. Each takes a different tact to doing the voice, showing how different actors can hear different things in voice. Imagine My Dinner with Andre but in much more humorous vein.
Coogan is a very gifted comic (see Hamlet 2) who finds a dark dramatic core. Even though he a bit of a cad with his trysts by the end of the piece the audience ultimately feels sorry for him. There is a massive sadness to his striving for fame before any other element of his life.
Rob Brydon is such a perfect foil to Coogan. Rob has no idea of the distain that Coogan feels for him. Where Coogan wants more, Brydon is content with his level of success and is surprised when someone recognizes him.
The Trip is not really a film for most audiences, especially if one wants action and plot. But as a nice niche distraction, this film is one trip to take.