British funnymen Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon coast between hotels, restaurants and quaint countryside locations in director Michael Winterbottom’s Sideways-esque love letter to good food, wine and conversation.
The Trip is essentially a stream of conversation fitted to the personable personalities of it’s two banter addicted Brits, who are never strapped for a word or a bang-on impersonation of a fellow actor. The dueling Michael Caine scene is an instant classic, but Sean Connery, Woody Allen and Hugh Grant also get memorable (enunciated) appearances.
The story set-up is simple: Coogan intended to take his food aficionado girlfriend on a magazine-sponsored trip around north England but encounters relationship problems and instead takes Brydon, an old mate. The film consists entirely of them on the road, cruising from one pit stop to another in a haze of chatter, with lashings of delicious looking wine and food decorating the tables in front of them.
Their decadent delectables include a duck fat lolly, liquor that tastes like a childhood garden and an “ironic dessert.” Anyone hungry for a reason to argue for the return of Smell-o-Vision ought to look no further.
The Trip has a lot less plot than Sideways but about the same depth of characterisations from Coogan and Bryden, who play versions of themselves well practiced in the 2010 TV show of the same name.
Like Sideways, one character, Coogan’s, is a skirt chasing partygoer while Brydeo is slightly more mature (his habit for spirited impersonations notwithstanding) though nothing in the vein of Paul Giamatti’s neurosis. Enjoyment of the film rests entirely on the shoulders of these chatty, personable, downright likable gents. Unflashy editing and deft, unprepossessing direction shapes, with Coogan and Bryden’s indelible influence, a charming on the road dramedy.
Winterbottom needed a little something extra to make it really special — a more powerful dramatic undercurrent, perhaps, or less repetition in the plot — but few people will watch the protags in The Trip and not want to sit down with them afterwards for a quaff and a chinwag.
The Trip’s Australian theatrical release date: June 30, 2011.