DIRECTOR: Michael Winterbottom
GROSS: $1,090,768 (as of July 17th, 2011)
When The Observer asks steve coogan to tour the finest restaurants he asks his girlfriend to go with him. she can't, so he calls a bunch of friends and asks them to go. but none of them are available so he calls rob brydon and asks him.
now, if the names steve coogan and rob brydon mean nothing to you, than i can understand why maybe you haven't been as excited about seeing The Trip as i have. however, that shouldn't stop you from seeing it now.
the film is a very simple road/buddy movie in which steve and rob travel through the north of england while - among other things - eating great food, checking out the countryside and trying to one-up each other with their michael caine impressions.
i will admit that while i have been familiar with steve coogan for many years - since i discovered his brilliant tv show I Am Allen Partridge and then in films like 24 Hour Party People and Hamlet 2 to name a couple - i only became familiar with rob brydon when i saw him and coogan in Tristam Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story. in that film they have some great moments playing off each other and The Trip just lets them take that to the next level.
the film began its life as a series on the bbc which director michael winterbottom took and edited down into a 100 minute film. he took out much of what wouldn't be understood by a north american audience - like references and the like. and i think he did a good job with it.
i haven't seen the tv series, but i think the film stands on its own and the characters are defined enough that any audience, even those with no reference point to coogan and brydon, will get it. although, there are moments that might go by without recognition as they did for me (there was a Flight Of The Concords reference i missed and a couple celebrities mentioned that i had no idea who they were).
so much of the film is the two of them improvising while sitting and eating or sitting in the car. and while the first big laugh comes with the battling michael caines, the funniest scene has to be the two of them riffing on the line "we rise at dawn!"
beyond the laughs, the film is about these two friends who are about the same age, but at two different places in their lives.
brydon has a wife and a kid. coogan has an ex-wife and a kid. he still dates and chases women and is on a break from his girlfriend and lives alone in a lonely apartment. brydon is well-known in the U.K. and is content with his career. coogan is better known internationally but is still looking for more fame and recognition. you get the idea...
for those who are a little more in-the-know about these guys and the history of their work, their careers, etc, their relationship in the film might bring with it even more recognizable layers and understanding. but for the rest of us - like i mentioned earlier - it isn't an issue. you don't sit there thinking you are missing out on anything. the film is put together really well and the ideas are simple and universal.