Overlooked Film #7: The Trip (2010)

Horizontal poster for The Trip, 2010 BBC/IFC film starring Steve Coogan

The Trip (2010) – Run Time: 109 Minutes

Available on Netflix DVD/Instant: Yes/Yes
Buy or Rent The Trip (2010) on Amazon

One Line Synopsis

An actor accepts a newspaper feature assignment to travel the North England countryside and experience high end cuisine with his girlfriend. When she moves back to America, he takes Rob.

Best Reason to Watch

1. The witty repartee between Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

2. Fan of British Humor.

3. Curious about UK “Foodie” Culture.

What Did You Miss?

Depending on your definition of a film, The Trip may not meet your preconceived notions and prerequisites of a film. Filmed in mockumentary style by the prolific hit-and-miss director Michael Winterbottom, The Trip follows a recent trend of shortening longer BBC miniseries or 6 episodes shows and melding them into a film for a limited release stateside.

Not to be confused with the 1967 Roger Corman directed LSD-centric Peter Fonda/Jack Nicholson flick, The Trip stars Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon as a pair of actors/comedians playing versions of themselves traveling the English country side for a week-long tasting of the most-touted local cuisine spots in more remote areas of the English countryside.

Truly, the eating is just a visual threading and a chance to relocate and change the atmosphere for Coogan and Brydon to continuously have one long gestating comedic conversation with some car driving sequences to tie it all together. They also make a few historic location stops to continually find out that lauded British poet usually had a serious drug problems.

“I am Michael Caine.”

One running joke in The Trip is Brydon reflexively spending 60 percent of his screen time practicing celebrity impersonations, most often  Michael Caine. Coogan trashes his impersonation showing him what he is missing. A wonderful give and take that continues throughout the film simultaneously highlighting the snarky nature of Coogan’s frustrated character juxtaposed to Brydon’s simple enjoyment of his surroundings and ability to be a good sport.

Brydon utilizes them as responses to different lines of questions. Even performing a Wordsworth poem at Bolton Abbey utilizing his best Ian McKellen to perform the task. Brydon uses a cover of impersonation to match the mood, selecting the right character in his repertoire to match the mood because his meek, confident persona does not give the moment the right amount of gravitas.

Slate even characterizes this in their review’s sub-headline “A British comedy that has the finest Michael Caine-impression showdown in cinematic history.”

So Sorry, Steve Coogan

In comparison to Ricky Gervais from The Office (UK) to his universally touted HBO series Extras to an excellent (and mixed reviews on his Golden Globe hosting), Steve Coogan has been heavily under-appreciated by American audiences. And that fact is one of the underlying strains of humorous reflection that consistently provides for laughs throughout the overlooked recent The Trip.

For a while Coogan seemed to be on the precipice of a breakout with touted “art films” like 24 Hour Party People, Hamlet 2 & Tristam Shandy:A Cock & Bull StoryThe Trip makes for the perfect audition tape for Steve Coogan. His “character” also named Steve Googan spends much of the film reflecting on how he is in his mid-40s, past his prime and overlooked for roles that he would meet perfectly. In one hilarious scene, he explains how it’s all Michael Sheen‘s fault for taking all the good roles.

In a film like this, the best thing  a director can do is get out of the way (and maybe add a few touches). For the most part, The Trip feels like a perfectly concocted British Curb Your Enthusiasm episode sans most of the Jewish jokes. A buddy comedy with acerbic wit. Yet the character don’t spend the whole trip barbing each other and getting upset. They understand each other, accept the jabs in stride and let the magic of entertainment take over.

The Trailer:

Related Links for The Trip:

The Trip (Official Site)
Buy or Rent The Trip (2010) on Amazon