The Trip to Spain – movie review

by James Robins / 26 August, 2017

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Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan get Pythonesque.

Trippers Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan take their jovial repartee to Spain.

British comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan reprise themselves for a third entry in The Trip series directed by Michael Winterbottom.

For the uninitiated, the set-up is simple: two chaps journey to a place where the eating is good and the scenery is picturesque on the pretext of writing a piece for the Observer. Each Trip began life as a six-part BBC television series, with the highlights edited into a feature film for the rest of the world.

In their debut, the pair did northern England while quoting Coleridge. Take two saw them in Italy citing Byron. Now, they’re in Spain parroting Monty Python’s The Spanish Inquisition sketches (naturally) and delivering their own skit in tribute, with Coogan the torturer and Brydon on the rack.

Otherwise, this film, like its predecessors, meanders by design, lolling along on the ebb and flow of conversation over the dining table. Most of it – sometimes to a fault – revolves around Brydon and Coogan’s talent for impersonations, and once again, we get versions of Mick Jagger, Christopher Lee, Michael Caine, Robert de Niro, Marlon Brando and Woody Allen.

However, the most curious aspect of the Trip films is not the clever riffing between the pair but their air of melancholy and bitterness. Coogan’s character, forever falling in and out of affairs, covers up a piercing jealousy of Brydon’s contented family life by jabbing at his opposite’s parochial fame, while constantly reminding him of those Oscar nominations (for Philomena) of his. Brydon’s character, in turn, sent the story to dark places by having a fling with a tour guide in Italy.

These twists of tone may jar somewhat, but they give the movies some much-needed depth and emotional variation. They are, at the core, a document of two midlife crises unfolding in languid, jovial slow-motion.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★1/2

This article was first published in the August 26, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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