To coincide with Carrie Love's and Joshua Martin's review of the film on the podcast, I asked one of my funnier cohorts and cinephile Rob Muggee to write up a review of Michael Winterbottom's The Trip.
Full disclosure, I was drunk while watching The Trip. This likely heightened the experience of this already fully enjoyable film though considering it is essentially a synthesized version of the BBC television series of the same name in which stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictionionalized versions of themselves as they travel through the North of England and stay at various inns and eat at various high rated restaurants. That at least is the aspect of the film they push; a fictionalized Travel Channel reality show with a fourth wall. If I'm going to be looking at seared scallops on a screen, it's practically a reflex to wash down my salivation with $5 pinot noir.
Albeit the foody parts having their charm, luckily that's only one small aspect of the film. The film/series is actually a follow up to Michael Winterbottom's previous effort, A Cock and Bull Story, which follows both Coogan and Brydon playing the same fictionalized versions of themselves and presumably not talking about food. I haven't seen it, so, that's what we're going to go with as long as you're reading this.
As the film unravels we learn about the separate lives of Coogan and Brydon and witness how it effects their relationship with each other. It's clear to the audience that there is a great amount of chemistry between the two, that they have many similar interests and tastes, and they both are able to entertain each other in a way that is so brilliant that it transcends the need to make you feel as you're a part of it as seems the case with most films, but Coogan hates Brydon. Throughout the film we see Coogan calling his girlfriend, Misha, as he climbs mountains and walks into desolate fields searching for a connection and yelling to be heard, while Brydon contacts his wife from bed and speaks in a warm tone as they giggle about him touching himself. We also witness dreams of Coogan as he is told he's about to be famous and a fan refers to him as a character he played on TV years prior that he is unable to move beyond in his career. Meanwhile, Brydon delights in falling into impressions he's been doing his whole career and is thrilled to serenade an elder woman into letting them into the Corelidge museum by performing his "small man trapped in a box" routine. The only women Coogan serenades are the various hotel maidens he talks into his bed. The women that whom once leave his bed instigate the aforementioned nightmares.
Basically, it's an odd couple scenario. And it fucking works. There are moments where you may feel like you're missing something, as with anything that starts off at 4 and a half hours and is cut down to two, but overall the film has a pleasant flow with many laughs and a brilliant ending. If only Hollywood films like Stupid, Crazy, Love could take a hint from endings like this. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, you should have ended it when Steve Carell was walking away after the fight in the back yard. Fuck you.