The Trip (2010)
June 16, 2020 9:38 PM - Subscribe

Steve Coogan has been asked by The Observer to tour the country's finest restaurants, but after his girlfriend backs out on him he must take his best friend and source of eternal aggravation, Rob Brydon.

New York Review of Books: Like many of the masterpieces of Western culture to which it humbly invites comparison—Ulysses, Endgame, Pierrot Le Fou—Michael Winterbottom’s new movie, The Trip, does not sound promising in paraphrase. Two successful middle-aged actors take a tour of high-end restaurants in the North of England in order to write an article for The Observer newspaper. The pair bicker, trade impersonations of their cinematic heroes, struggle to come up with interesting things to say about the finicky and pretentious meals they are fed (“Hotter than I would’ve expected,” etc.), and that is more or less it. The gastro-tourists return home, the film ends.

It is hard to say exactly how Winterbottom and his two leading men transmute this rather lenten premise into the artistic feast The Trip becomes, but humor certainly plays a large part. After a comparatively tame first quarter of an hour, the theater where I went to see it was engulfed in a ninety-minute tsunami of laughter. What we were laughing at, first and foremost, was the bantering, rivalrous friendship between the two main characters, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

NYTimes: Does it matter where a performer ends and the persona begins, or if the two can be separated? In “The Trip” you search for authenticity among the jokes and lulls, but what you get is what you see and hear: Mr. Coogan sniping, eating and whining, endlessly whining, about the size of his rooms, the state of his career, and Mr. Brydon a blissful foil. It’s plenty real.

Even so, it’s impossible to know if Mr. Coogan is honestly wounded and if Mr. Brydon is as cheerfully impervious to insult as he appears. It’s easier to guess: maybe so. In one scene Mr. Coogan tries to mimic Mr. Brydon’s popular “small man in a box” voice and its tiny peeping, but fails. Looking into a mirror, Mr. Coogan says with strangled effort — addressing his twin self, the one perhaps responsible for great Coogan creations like Alan Partridge — “I don’t care about silly voices.” It’s a perfect encapsulation of the contradictions and sad-funny neediness that “The Trip” gets at so well and a moment that Mr. Winterbottom almost blows with the tinkling piano that creeps onto the soundtrack whenever things turn self-consciously serious. There’s no need to milk the tears when, like the laughs, they’re already flowing.

Roger Ebert: It's a good question how true any of this is. The movie lists no screenwriters, but although it looks like a documentary, it isn't one. Apparently it was edited down from a longer BBC-TV series during which the food was possibly more discussed. At the end we're left with the intriguing question: Would we rather see the same two actors in a regular story?

The Trip Is the Funniest Sad Movie on Netflix

The Trip as Mourning Comedy

posted by MoonOrb (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The series is very very good (for a certain type of viewer) but even for someone who’s enjoying it, it is a lot. I keep meaning to go back and watch the edited-down version (probably before watching later seasons that are sitting in my queue). Mostly I just enjoyed the material so much (when properly paced) that I don’t want to lose any of it with the abridged version.
posted by supercres at 10:52 PM on June 16, 2020

I liked this but I have a weak spot for Coogan, and impressions I admit it. Mostly though becaus it seemed like a continuation of Tristram Shandy which I liked a lot.
posted by fleacircus at 12:25 AM on June 17, 2020

Gentlemen! To Bed! For we ride at... (what time is the battle?)...
posted by wabbittwax at 5:23 AM on June 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

Come come Mr. Bond....
posted by valkane at 7:37 AM on June 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

You stayed up all night just to memorize that poem, didn't you?
posted by lazaruslong at 3:29 PM on June 19, 2020

Oh, that's funny, we just watched the Greece one last night (having seen the rest) and I came here to see if any of them had ever been discussed and this post had just gone up a couple days ago?

Anyway, I like them all. This one, the first, was the most amusing, probably because we know what to expect in the subsequent ones.
posted by gaspode at 8:40 AM on June 20, 2020

This looks like fun, but it was on Netflix in 2017. Can't find it now.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 6:51 AM on June 24, 2020

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