THE TRIP TO SPAIN (2017)
Starring Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Marta Barrio, Claire Keelan, Margo Stilley, Rebecca Johnson, Justin Edwards, Kerry Shale, Kyle Soller, Timothy Leach and Tom Clegg.
Written by Michael Winterbottom.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom.
Distributed by IFC Films. 110 minutes. Not Rated.
The idea behind the The Trip series is rather brilliant. Take two friends, both British comic actors – one well-known (Steve Coogan), the other more of a character actor (Rob Brydon) – and set them loose in exotic places. Allow them to play slightly fictionalized versions of themselves and riff off each other in some of the most beautiful hotels, restaurants and scenic locations in the world.
Hook them up with a director they are comfortable with (this is Coogan’s seventh film with Michael Winterbottom), roll film and let the magic happen.
The idea started out in 2010 with The Trip, in which Coogan and Brydon visited and reviewed restaurants in their native England, while dealing with their personal lives and relationships. They then took the idea abroad few years ago with the very funny The Trip to Italy. Now the buddies move on to Spain. All three movies are condensed versions of a The Trip TV series in their native England.
It’s like a smarter version of the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby The Road to… movies for the new millennium reality-show generation, without the corny gags and Dorothy Lamour. It’s the type of programming which would feel comfortable on BBC America, The Travel Channel, The Food Network and Comedy Central.
Like I said, a brilliant idea. At least in theory.
And yet, the idea is starting to get a little threadbare.
Both guys are very funny and they are always on – joking, riffing, doing funny imitations and skits as they visit some of the finest restaurants, hotels and tourist spots in Spain. Some are insanely funny – the bit with imitations of Marlon Brando and Woody Allen doing the old Monty Python “Spanish Inquisition” skit in an old Spanish abbey is a total hoot.
Eventually, though, it all gets to be a little too much. By the time the two guys are doing their second or third dueling Mick Jagger bit (the voice must be a little higher, and the clapping hands by the face must be higher as well) the audience is like, okay, okay, I get it already.
It’s a shame, because they are very funny, smart guys, and they obviously have a good rapport. I particularly love how Brydon won’t ever let Coogan get away with humble-bragging about his Oscar-nominated film Philomena.
The restaurants and hotels are – needless to say – stunning. Finally, this series has hit a point where it almost works better as a travelogue than a comedy.
There are little attempts to graft a storyline onto the trip. Brydon is a happy family man who misses his wife and kids. Coogan is having an affair with a much younger, married woman. And he’s just found out that his son has gotten his girlfriend pregnant.
However, other people, much like the sights, are only there to adorn the men on their middle-aged journey. The women are just around to laugh appreciatively as the guys do their act.
It’s like My Dinner with Andre with sightseeing and David Bowie imitations.
The Trip to Spain is still a very funny film and the guys are often hysterical, but everyone feels like they are trying too hard to get laughs. If there is another chapter to this series – may I officially request The Trip to France? – the guys may want to think on how to blend the comedy more naturally into the proceedings, rather than let the non-stop patter bulldoze everything else going on onscreen.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2017 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 24, 2017.