Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip is a strange beast: a television series made up of six episodes that were cut and edited into a movie. This is not noticeable, however. The Trip feels very much like a movie made by friends over the course of a long weekend. Most of the dialogue is improvised, and the randomness of the conversations are a dead giveaway; there is no telling where these friends will take you as they bring you along on their wonderfully funny vacation.
The premise is that Steve Coogan (Steve Coogan) was supposed to go on a tour of restaurants in Northern England with his girlfriend (played by Margot Stilley), but she has decided they need a break and has left for America to further her journalism career. Coogan is expected to deliver an article to The Observer at the end of the trip, and is looking for a replacement travel partner. He is finally able to get Rob Brydon (Rob Brydon) to tag along for the trip. Coogan and Brydon play caricatures of themselves throughout, and it is fun to spot the times that one or the other breaks character for an impulsive smile or laugh.
There may be a few times when jokes get “lost in translation” as there are many references to British culture, especially pop culture. There is also lots of interesting looking food and lots of genuinely beautiful countryside. It isn’t just two dudes in a car yipping at each other. No, there is a formula: eating food, dueling impersonations, driving, phone calls, Coogan dreams, rinse and repeat. Especially fun is their dueling Michael Caines. Watching them try to get a better and better impersonation, and sometimes falling absolutely flat, is a joy to watch.
There is a delightful back and forth when Rob asks Steve if he would allow his son to come down with appendicitis (according to Rob, the boy would feel some discomfort and spend a night in the hospital) if it meant Steve would be guaranteed a Best Actor Oscar. The look on Steve’s face as his internal struggle rages is a highlight, among many such highlights, of the film.
The scenes where Coogan is in contact with his girlfriend are quite poignant and charming, and the developing relationship with his estranged son will be fun to watch evolve in future installments of the films. The Trip is followed by The Trip to Italy, The Trip to Spain, and The Trip to Greece – of which, all three main players, Winterbottom, Coogan, and Brydon, have declared The Trip to Greece will be the last. That is a sad declaration.