The Trip [film]
This must’ve been a difficult script to pitch to the film studios.
“So, two men drive out into the English countryside.”
“They talk a lot in the car. Sometimes they stop to visit restaurants. One of them is a bit sad because his girlfriend is overseas for a while, but he’s coping alright.”
“And that’s it?”
And really, that is it. But it works.
The crucial factor here is the two men involved: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
These British comedians are such a pair of characters that they hardly need a plot- or personas. They play themselves, albeit in fictionalised form, and it delivers. If ‘hilarious banter’ could be a genre unto itself, this flick would be seminal.
I have met a few (actually very few) people who crave long, heavy emotional films whenever they head to a cinema. These individuals might call this film ‘fluff’, and they’re partly right: you will not derive the meaning of life from this film. However, that’s the pleasure of it: The Trip is light viewing. However, unlike some of the lighter films that crop up in the US, it’s never dumb or repetitive, nor does it rely heavily on gimmicks or dick jokes. The trip is 107 minutes of light comedic wit with just enough emotional weight to feel like a solid film.
In between the bizarre accent impressions and general pom lulz you will find a fine thread of quite intellectual, sensitive scripting. Steve Coogan’s internal battles are many – he struggles with his career insecurities, with the physical distance of his American partner and with the emotional distance of his son (product of what appears to be a past divorce). He also battles with Rob Brydon, who is set up as ‘the better guy’ in a way that suits his cheeky manner very well. Brydon is happier, funnier, more successful and definitely more married. This creates a tension that adds a subtle edge to much of the banter between these friends. In typical British style*, the script is tasteful (borderline brusque) in its dealings with the emotional issues Coogan faces, opting to evoke the feelings instead of exploring them too much. This is a satisfying choice; indulging these themes would change the feel of the film significantly. Stiff upper lip, old chap.
Do you watch a lot of UK television? If yes, GO AND SEE THIS RIGHT NOW. That is all.
If no, I still would recommend you go and check out The Trip, albeit with a bit less urgency. Even if you don’t get all the jokes (and I didn’t), it is still a very funny and well-balanced film. This is exactly the kind of film what you want to see when you go to the cinema after a long day at work, and a highly competitive alternative to deceptively-packaged schlock like Sleeping Beauty and Tree of Life.
*Can I really say ‘in typical British style’ anymore? It feels wrong. I’ve seen ‘Laddette to Lady’. I know what goes on.