Do you enjoy banter? Random long winded discussion about mundane subjects that ultimately express the inward subconscious of the discussers? How about impressions, especially British impressions? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions then you should enjoy “The Trip.”
The film centers on Steve Coogan being played by himself and Rob Brydon who is also playing himself. Steve is reviewing northern England’s finest restaurants for a magazine, and because of a recent separation with his girlfriend, decides to take his friend Rob. I use the word separation because instead of actually breaking up, Steve and Mischa (Margo Stilley) decided to do an ambiguously exhausting “break” that Mischa seems way fonder of than Steve.
The bulk of the movie is Rob and Steve driving and dining. They discuss a wide variety of subjects from waking up early, Hollywood, food, philosophy, women, and their own children. During their excursion they do loud impressions of Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, and much, much more. Their banter seems very natural as they talk over each other, repeat themselves, and mumble inaudibly. Itʼs a funny reprieve from the boisterous antics of a Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, and Ben Stiller (even though he makes a cameo in this movie).
So is there an actual story or is this entire movie just an overheard conversation between two actors? As far as character arcs go, this movie is quite complex. The complexity comes from the culmination of similarities and differences between the two leads and what they both gain from each other.
Steve and Rob may seem to get along, but they are two entirely different people. The film subtly slides you examples of their polarizing mentalities throughout. Steve is a single wounded artist who strives for the spotlight while Rob is a generally pleasant family man who seems to have a good time in any scenario. I once read that our personalities will stay imprinted in any situation. If youʼre a generally happy person, then youʼll be able to find happiness if you became wheel chair bound. If youʼre a generally miserable person, then youʼll be miserable in Hawaii with ten million dollars. Thatʼs how I would describe the two leads. Steve has had a brief taste of global success and remains unhappy with himself and his career. Rob has moderate success in his acting career, but he has never reached the fame of Steve Coogan. Even though Rob has never been in multi million dollar blockbusters, he seems quite content and grateful for what he has and what heʼs achieved (he was in MirrorMask though, and thatʼs should have been a global hit).
Throughout the film, Steve calls his slowly diminishing girlfriend and pours his heart and soul out to her. She is not affected by his pleas and that sends Steve further down the road of self deprecation. Luckily for Steve, he is spending a week with one of the most delightful human beings on the planet. Steve finds Rob obnoxious most of the time, but one of the greatest accomplishments of this film is seeing Rob whittle down Steveʼs self destructive tendencies.
From a film making stand point, this film is shot and edited more like a reality show. Itʼs very raw in its filmmaking as there is a minimal amount of coverage and the shots tend to linger. Thatʼs part of the filmʼs charm. Steve Coogan is a real person and to over stylize this film would dilute its genuine qualities. Itʼs an impressive accomplishment to feel like real life and still be funny, sweet, and entertaining.
Overall this film is an easy going journey that may not ever have you on the floor laughing, but chuckling throughout. Even though the actors are playing themselves, they convey their own emotions very well. The biggest question in this film is who has the better Michael Caine impression? I vote for Rob Brydon.
This is my first review of a film that does not contain a beheading. Iʼm trying to review films that are modern under-the-radar genre films. I promise my readers (Mom) that next weekʼs review will be exceedingly violent and trippy.