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The Trip - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Trip
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+

The Trip is probably a bit meta for some people's tastes, given that Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves, but as self-referential, tongue-in-cheek comedy goes, they do an unusually good job of it.

Why The Observer would hire an actor to travel the northern English countryside to review pretentious upscale restaurants is anybody's guess, but that's what happens here. In the film, Coogan's girlfriend, who is equal parts distant and exasperated with him, begs out of coming along on the trip. Coogan turns to his comedian friend Rob, simply because he doesn't want to go alone. And so these two middle-aged Englishmen go on this week-long trip together.

The story is relatively thin: Coogan is repressed and lonely but unable to admit to himself that he's in need of connection; Brydon is comfortable and self-possessed and merely along for a fun ride. Coogan faces the challenge of finding areas near the hotels and restaurants that have cell phone reception, and when he does, his calls back home to his girlfriend or his assistant or his son are peppered with references to Brydon being "a pain in the ass." And yet, when he's not thinking about how annoying Brydon supposedly is, he's clearly having a good time with him.

What stretches this concept out is what truly makes The Trip worth seeing, and that's the chemistry and humor between Coogan and Brydon. Whether they are in the car or sitting across from each other at restaurant tables, they are constantly in conversation, usually rather funny ones you would love to be a part of. They are witty and literate; sometimes even esoteric, at least to some American audiences.

The two of them very quickly fall into a battle of one-upmanship, of sorts, as they engage in dueling celebrity impressions, most frequently the likes of Michael Cain or one or another of the James Bonds. Brydon usually does very serviceable impressions; Coogan, even though he insists "I don't do impressions," offers his own versions in an effort to show how they can be done better. And the things they say as they do this often rapidly increase in hilarity.

This is a very British film with very British humor, which makes sense given that they are British actors doing a film version of a BBC television series of the same name. It's been said the series has greater depth and poignancy in between the humor, but if you've never seen the series it really doesn't matter. Judged on its own merits, The Trip is well worth tagging along for the ride. Indeed it doesn't have a great deal of depth, but it's still got more than most breezy comedies.

There's still a hint of gravitas to the humor, which serves it well. Coogan and Brydon offer deliveries much more as comedians than as actors, but it still works; in a uniquely refreshing way, The Trip is neither challenging nor pandering. In spite of its moments of melancholy -- which actually feel appropriate in their context -- it's rather pleasant and fun.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon one-up each other in restaurants and on the road in 'The Trip'.

Overall: B+
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