Recommended for Film Buffs, Not the Casual Moviegoer
Steve Coogan’s The Trip is an overly long yet interesting meditation on his own artistic significance, or lack thereof. One part dull to two parts amusing, it has some admittedly very funny moments if you don’t mind occasionally checking your watch.
Mr. Coogan, a wildly talented comedic British actor who has yet to make his mark here across the pond, gives us a film that is actually a self-parody as he amusingly mocks his own lack of success as an actor. Here, we find him conducting a faux documentary as he takes a car trip through Northern England to sample the cuisine at various restaurants along the way. His girlfriend having ditched him, deciding to pursue her career here in the States, he invites his friend, Rob Brydon, along for company.
Mr. Brydon is another talented British comedian with a diabolical flair for impressions. The Trip is at its most enjoyable as our two traveling companions mock each other unmercifully, usually with incredible spot on impressions of everyone from Richard Burton to Michael Cain to Woody Allen.
Coogan portrays himself as a bit of a sad sack, the divorced father of two children enjoying the “pleasures” of various barmaids on his journey. (Not that there’s anything with that!) Interspersed in his adventures are calls from his agent as he tries to hid his angst over landing some type of plum role in Hollywood. It takes an actor with a great amount of self-confidence to play himself as a man so full of artistic self-doubt.
I was a big admirer of Mr. Coogan before seeing this film and I remain even more so now. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, you may remember him as the small Roman Centurion in an ongoing battle with Owen Wilson’s clueless cowboy in the increasingly lame Night at the Museum movies. But if you want to see him at his best, then I encourage you to look at his star roll as Phineas Fogg in the underrated remake of Around the World in 80 Days (2004); his irreverent turn as the star of Tristan Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005); his memorable role as the doomed film director in the hysterial Tropic Thunder (2008); not to mention his outrageous performance as Hades himself in the surprisingly entertaining Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010).
While the point of The Trip is for Mr. Coogan to satirize his plight in not finding better movie roles here in the States, the scenes in The Trip of our two friends dining each evening at a new restaurant will tantalize the palate of those of you who consider yourselves to be devotees of fine cuisine. In addition, the cinematography of the Northern England countryside provides a dazzling, breathtaking backdrop to our boys’ misadventures.
The Trip is an interesting art house movie that will not be everyone’s cup of tea. While there are moments of true brilliance during the slam bang exchanges between Coogan and Brydon, there are slow moments of undeniable tedium. On the other hand, maybe I’m describing the perfect film to watch at home, as the inevitable distractions will not ruin the experience.