Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Trip (2011) ****

The thing you need to know about Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon is that they are beloved comic actors in the U.K., and have frequently worked together. As such, they often play off of their own public personas in their work, presumably exaggerating and playing off the public perception of Coogan as a bit of a self-important jerk, and of Brydon as the humbler, long-suffering friend. I have no idea what these two would be like in real life, but in “The Trip” they play these stylized versions of themselves as they travel around the English countryside, trying out country restaurants for an article Coogan is supposedly writing.

No need to worry too much about the plot of “The Trip,” because the important part here is all the little things that happen on the journey itself. The conversations, jokes, and songs that pass between these two had me rolling, and you can tell that much of it is improvised. In one particularly brilliant scene, the two bicker over their competing Michael Caine impressions (with Rob Brydon clearly the winner to my ear.) There are also some very poignant insights, as in this exchange:

Brydon: “Don’t you find it exhausting chasing and bedding all these young women?”
Coogan: “Don’t you find it exhausting taking care of a baby?”
Brydon: “We’re forty; everything is exhausting.”
Long silence.

As much as I loved “The Trip,” it is clearly not for everyone. It is very talky, very British, very dry. It’s the sort of thing you will like, if you like this sort of thing.

4 stars

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