Two friends, both British actors playing some version of themselves, travel the British countryside eating good food and annoying each other in The Trip, a loose, low-key buddy road movie.
Steve Coogan landed a travel-writing gig that was to serve as a romantic trip around north England for himself and his girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley). But she has returned to Los Angeles and they are “taking a break.” As the movie begins, he’s searching for a replacement — someone to go with him and eat gourmet meals and stay at bed-and-breakfasts. He lands on his friend Rob Brydon.
Brydon and Coogan, in actual life, have appeared together in a variety of different movies and TV shows including 2005’s adaptation of Tristam Shandy. They are “hey, it’s that guy”-types in the U.S. (with Coogan having higher name/face recognition for his work in movies like Tropic Thunder and Hamlet 2) but have a résumé that suggests much greater notoriety in Britain. And they are clearly friends — friends at that perfect level where you are no longer required to be particularly nice or interesting, where a conversation that is mostly mutual mockery doesn’t seem overtly cruel.
The movie — something of a mockumentary though the cameras are not acknowledged — follows them through the countryside as they stop at various restaurants and spend their meals making good-natured digs about each other’s careers. They also trade impressions and it’s these scenes — who has the better Michael Caine, who can do a proper Sean Connery — that you have likely seen in a trailer. These are the biggest moments of comedy, the points at which you are most likely to laugh out loud. At other times, their conversations are more of the quietly humorous school. There is a comfort level between the men that makes watching them and listening to them enjoyable even if you don’t get all the British showbiz references. Though different in tone and subject, The Trip shares a lot in spirit with Curb Your Enthusiasm and even Seinfeld. This kind of peeking in on someone else’s chummy relationship is deeply enjoyable even if it isn’t a laugh a minute. B
Not rated. Directed by Michael Winterbottom, The Trip is an hour and 47 minutes long and distributed by IFC Films. It is available via IFC Films On-Demand.