The Trip (2010)

The Trip (2010) – Michael Winterbottom is a director whose films I want to see more of. He’s done two that I would rank as great: The Killer Inside Me and 24 Hour Party People. Even 9 Songs, which I found boring as hell, was provocative and interesting on some level. Still I’ve barely scratched the surface of his filmography. 24 Hour Party People would be my favorite of the films of his that I have actually seen. He had a very particular idea of what he wanted and he went out and did it. Of course that film was very much dependent on the charisma of its star, Steve Coogan. He did not disappoint. Winterbottom and Coogan reteamed for Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which ended up not being a strait up film version of the famously un-adaptable novel but instead a meta portrait of a film crew and actor Steve Coogan attempting to film the famously un-adaptable novel. Coogan and actor Rob Brydon (also from 24 Hour Party People) played exaggerated versions of themselves. I liked it. Other critics liked it. Apparently all involved with the making of the film liked it to because here they are back at it again.

On BBC2 The Trip originally aired as a six-episode television series. The movie is edited from that series. Steve Coogan reprises his role of… Steve Coogan. Coogan is hired by a magazine to take a trip of the English countryside, visiting some historical sights and eating in fancy restaurants. (Nice work if you can get it.) He had originally planned to go with his girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley from 9 Songs), but she has gone back to her home country (the U.S.) and their relationship seems to be in a state of limbo. Instead he calls sometime co-star Brydon, who he doesn’t seem to hold in a very high regard but the two have an odd rapport that makes you see why he’d be the guy to pick.

Most of the movie is just Coogan and Brydon shooting the shit and eating some fancy food (a lot of which looks delicious). Powerful cinema? I don’t know, but it is entertaining. The film does have a bit of weight to it, but it mostly just keeps things funny. The juxtaposition between the more-famous but decidedly less-happy Coogan and satisfied family man Brydon is presented as poignant. Is it? I don’t know. Mainly, I just enjoyed myself watching this movie. It isn’t a brilliantly meta take on Manchester’s post-punk scene or convoluted 18th century literature, but it is two funny guys being funny amidst the backdrop of a gorgeous English countryside. That’s enough.

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