Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
What Was I Watching Before? Bryan Singer Says 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Is "The True Birth Of The X-Men" What Was I Watching Before? Bryan Singer Says 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Is "The True Birth Of The X-Men" Review & Recap: 'True Detective' Season 2, Episode 3 'Maybe Tomorrow' Review & Recap: 'True Detective' Season 2, Episode 3 'Maybe Tomorrow' Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Epic New Trailer For Werner Herzog's 'Queen Of The Desert' With Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, & More Watch: Epic New Trailer For Werner Herzog's 'Queen Of The Desert' With Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, & More The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Watch: Michael Fassbender Plays ‘Steve Jobs’ In New Trailer For Oscar-Contender Co-Starring Kate Winslet & Seth Rogen Watch: Michael Fassbender Plays ‘Steve Jobs’ In New Trailer For Oscar-Contender Co-Starring Kate Winslet & Seth Rogen Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

Tribeca Review: Michael Winterbottom's 'The Trip' A Wickedly Funny Road Trip

The Playlist By The Playlist | The Playlist April 26, 2011 at 2:19AM

Fans of British actor/comedian Steve Coogan ("I'm Alan Partridge," the outstanding lead in "24 Hour Party People") tend to fall into two camps: the Anglophile hyper-obsessives (believe me, they exist) and the casual fan where this writer finds himself (though there's probably a third and fourth level of indifference and unawareness). But both sides of the coin should be pleased with the results of his latest collaboration with Rob Brydon.
1


Fans of British actor/comedian Steve Coogan ("I'm Alan Partridge," the outstanding lead in "24 Hour Party People") tend to fall into two camps: the Anglophile hyper-obsessives (believe me, they exist) and the casual fan where this writer finds himself (though there's probably a third and fourth level of indifference and unawareness). But both sides of the coin should be pleased with the results of his latest collaboration with Rob Brydon.

Edited down from a BBC TV sitcom comprised of six episodes at 30 minutes a piece, Michael Winterbottom's condensed, greatest-hits version of "The Trip" for U.S. audiences runs a brisk 70 minutes. Slight, and simultaneously very funny with deeper undertones than one would expect, it manages to still feel like a stand-alone film and not just the best parts of a longer TV show.

Those who know the Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon dynamic -- illustrated in Winterbottom's amusing, but only semi-successful meta-comedy, "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story" -- will be on familiar terra firma (U.K. audiences will know this dynamic from as far back as 2002's "Cruise of the Gods"). In 'Shandy,' Coogan and Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves; actor/comedians who share an odd-couple adversarial friendship complete with competitiveness, put-downs, jealousy, and spitefulness (though, as a recent Playlist interview with the duo will attest, that dynamic is somewhat rooted in truth) . And "The Trip" is essentially a continuation in exploring that relationship, minus the period-piece setting of their previous collaboration with Winterbottom.


So "The Trip" is like "My Dinner With Andre," only there's no adenoidal Wallace Shawn, no real philosophical conversations and instead it's a bickering Coogan and Brydon on a road-trip discussing the finer points of such deep topics as Bond villains or the subtleties of Michael Caine's voice. But that's hardly a criticism as they get some gut-busting mileage out of even the most minute of subject matter. It's also like food porn as Coogan is on an all-expenses paid business trip restaurant tour of Northern England to write a foodie article and Brydon tags along for the free and delicious ride. Essentially, the picture is broken up into driving, eating, talking and arguing to the point of driving each other nuts.

Also, there's impressions. Lots and lots of (awesome) impressions, making up for a lot of the film's excellent comedy. Brydon boasts that broadsheet journalists have described his impressions (people like Caine, Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino) as "stunningly accurate," and an annoyed Coogan tries to tell him that no man over 40 should be doing them. And of course, given the friendly though real rivalry at the core of their friendship, seconds later he's trying to one-up Brydon with his impressions of the famous actors, describing what's exactly off about his friend's mimicry. Their relationship is one of undermining each other at every turn, and yet a small glimmer of affection seems to bubble below the surface of all the belittling and disparagement. They also are a counterpoint -- Brydon is a family man with a modest home, while Coogan lives in a posh flat and dates what appears to be some kind of American supermodel while carrying on like a cad with any woman he meets.

But there's a deeper undercurrent to "The Trip," and the only reason Coogan embarks on a tour of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales of Northern England with his "friend" Brydon is to impress his gourmand actress girlfriend Misha, who's now in the U.S. on a run of auditions with American filmmakers. Estranged and taking a break, it's really Misha who was supposed to be on this voyage with Steve, but since the arrogant, and self-centered comedian doesn't have many options -- and doesn't want to go alone -- he invites Brydon, a pal he's not particularly close with, but hell, he'll do.

Particularly effective are the scenes where Coogan escapes to make calls to Misha in the U.S. and their not-on-the-same-page disconnection seems to echo over the line in an unexpectedly heartbreaking manner. So between all the laughs and sarcastic quips at one another's expense in this silly, wonderful folly of a film, "The Trip" is a surprisingly moving portrait at loneliness. At least at times it is, and these scenes, particularly the melancholy ending, give the film a heft and weight most really wouldn't expect.

So, is "The Trip" a bunch of dinner conversation vignettes thrown together with a loose theme tossed around it? Possibly, but this rhythm, flow and Coogan's relationship reprieve sequences work far better than they ought to. "The Trip" is both paper thin narratively and yet, completely hilarious, and more to the point, very enjoyable. While there are lulls in the comedy, the pensive moments give the picture balance. Winterbottom's camera stays back, simply picking up the action. In many ways, the film is an exercise in the mundane and the droll comedians' take on such banalities. But ultimately, while "The Trip" is kind of a trifle and a minor work in the Winterbottom and Coogan/Brydon oeuvre, don't let that fool you. Hugely enjoyable and wickedly funny, this is one road trip you'll be glad you took. [B]

This article is related to: Films, Actors, Review, Michael Winterbottom, The Trip, Steve Coogan


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates