Michael Winterbottom is an odd sod. I mean, how else do you describe someone who follows up a controversial film about rape and murder with an improvised six-part comedy series which is then edited into a 100 minute movie for audiences in America and Australia?
On paper, The Trip sounds like the worse idea ever; two middle aged actors play themselves driving around the northern countryside and eating at incredibly fancy restaurants. In practice, it actually works rather well.
Following on from 2006’s ‘A Cock and Bull Story’, Steve Coogan (Steve Coogan) is still reaching out for the gold hoop that is a film career in America. With his girlfriend moving to the US to pitch a new series, Coogan stays at home debating whether to follow to pursue a potential HBO pilot, leaving his son with his ex-wife. Meanwhile, to impress his girlfriend, he accepts an offer to write an article about a week long restaurant tour with Rob Brydon (Rob Brydon).
Watching Coogan and Brydon bounce off each other is a delight. Coogan playing straight man to Brydon’s affable stooge. Brydon seems incapable of not being charming and it’s the thought of this author (and not so much the blog) that he really does deserve a bit more exposure outside of the UK. Brydon’s phone-calls to his wife are touching, funny and believable all at the same time. Coogan, himself, emotes self-pity like no one else (eg his decision to play Joy Division as a soundtrack to his trip is excruciatingly pretentious) and it’s a compliment to him that he manages to make us hate him, but ultimately feel sorry for him in the film’s climax.
Note: When I say climax, I don’t mean ‘giant squid destroys New York’ climax. More ‘Oh I see. Fair enough.’ climax.
To be honest, The Trip’s only real flaw is that it is clear it’s an edited version of its source material. The hallmarks of episodic comedy are plainly there to see (the meals, the fights, Steve Coogan’s nightmares). However, that’s my only real complaint.
Eat. Enjoy. Love.
…That’s the worse sign off I’ve ever written.