Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Ryan Gosling To Star In 'Blade Runner 2' Ryan Gosling To Star In 'Blade Runner 2' Watch: New Trailer For 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Flies Into The Galaxy Watch: New Trailer For 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Flies Into The Galaxy Watch: First Teaser Trailer For Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' 'Macbeth,' Todd Haynes' 'Carol,' Pixar's 'Inside Out' Lead 2015 Cannes Film Festival Line-Up 'Macbeth,' Todd Haynes' 'Carol,' Pixar's 'Inside Out' Lead 2015 Cannes Film Festival Line-Up Watch: Zack Snyder Teases The Full Trailer For ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' & Upcoming IMAX Event Watch: Zack Snyder Teases The Full Trailer For ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' & Upcoming IMAX Event Ryan Gosling & Edgar Wright Talk 'Lost River,' Shooting In Detroit, And Advice For First Time Filmmakers Ryan Gosling & Edgar Wright Talk 'Lost River,' Shooting In Detroit, And Advice For First Time Filmmakers Netflix & Marvel's 'Daredevil': The Pros, The Cons, The Verdict Netflix & Marvel's 'Daredevil': The Pros, The Cons, The Verdict Netflix's 'Daredevil' Is An Awesome Achievement And Marvel's Most Graphic & Grounded Effort To Date Netflix's 'Daredevil' Is An Awesome Achievement And Marvel's Most Graphic & Grounded Effort To Date Watch: Action-Packed Footage In 2 New “Avengers: Age of Ultron’ TV Spots, Plus Watch Interviews With The Entire Cast Watch: Action-Packed Footage In 2 New “Avengers: Age of Ultron’ TV Spots, Plus Watch Interviews With The Entire Cast Watch: Trailer For 'The Great Beauty' Director Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Starring Michael Caine & Rachel Weisz Watch: Trailer For 'The Great Beauty' Director Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Starring Michael Caine & Rachel Weisz Joss Whedon Says He's Not Making 'Avengers: Infinity War' Because It's "A Young Man’s Game" Joss Whedon Says He's Not Making 'Avengers: Infinity War' Because It's "A Young Man’s Game" Watch: Take 7 Minutes And Learn The History Of Film Editing Watch: Take 7 Minutes And Learn The History Of Film Editing 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Called "Amazing" And "More Emotional" With "Insane Action" After First Screening 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Called "Amazing" And "More Emotional" With "Insane Action" After First Screening Joss Whedon Calls 'Jurassic World' Clip "70s Era Sexist" Joss Whedon Calls 'Jurassic World' Clip "70s Era Sexist" The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 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 From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

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