The Trip

Movie Review #899


Limited release on June 10, 2011. Comedy/Drama. This film is not rated. Runs 107 minutes. British production. Director: Michael Winterbottom. No writer credited. Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Paul Popplewell, Margo Stilley, and Claire Keelan.


By Alexander Diminiano

The word “entertaining” is as vacuous a word as anything the English language could offer. It doesn’t mean a thing until you surround it with more words. Sure, the film could be entertaining, but how entertaining And even then, it can still be quite a challenge to convey one’s thoughts accurately.

So if you came here wondering if “The Trip” is an entertaining film, then yes, it is. But I’m not gonna recommend it. The fact that it’s simply entertaining shouldn’t mean very much to you. Especially when, in all honesty, its power to entertain occurs sporadically.

I am thankful of at least one thing at the moment, and that is that I watched the American release of the film. In the USA, “The Trip” was released to cinemas as a film of less than two hours in running time. However, this is nothing more than a trim-down from what it was in Great Britain: a BBC Two series consisting of six half-hour episodes.

This is a movie that uproots from a nice idea, but doesn’t exactly realize the idea as something nice. I use the word “nice” because I’m feeling generous this week. I could use terms like, I don’t know, “unoriginal.” I could point out that this is exactly like the Alexander Payne film “Sideways”, except its characters are on a road trip for food rather than wine, are seriously undeveloped, and have disgusting teeth. (Not that my intention is to imply that Brits are naturally born with poor teeth, but yes, “The Trip” is a British movie.)

“The Trip” is a routine dramedy in other areas, as well. Try counting how many times Steve Coogan (playing himself) calls his girlfriend. How many times his work partner Rob Brydon (also playing himself) gets the two of them into an argument over which of them can do a better impression of Insert Name of Well-Known Actor Here. They do impressions galore, and these are practically the only laughs we get from this film; everything else is vapid, self-absorbed laughter from the actors alone. They do some good impressions, such as Michael Caine, even if “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” is heard so many times that it’s done to death. They do some bad impressions, as well, like Woody Allen.

“The Trip” is a movie that you know you love if you have a certain interest. Would you happen to describe yourself as a foodie? Then you’ll love this movie, because it’s basically a romp around the Food Network. With comedy, and failed attempts at comedy, and unnecessarily soapy drama. Would you happen to adore talkative British humor, the kind where writing “Steve Coogan takes a footstep” into the screenplay is way, way, way too much action to be treating the story with? Then you’re in luck, because these two do not stop talking. They babble and they babble and they babble. I’ll give them a thumbs-up for their ability to improvise just about the whole movie, but, let’s be honest: In the end, who cares that they improvised their humor if it’s hardly ever funny?