Wednesday, June 15, 2011
"The Trip" is a film that has made the rounds at various festivals and is finally getting a limited release for the public. I found the film to be very reminiscent to "Sideways" in the relationship between Steve Coogan and Rob Byrdon. They are two guys that are friends, but you wonder why they maintain their friendship as you follow the pair on a sophisticated journey through Northern England experiencing high-end restaurants and stunning scenery.
For most of the American audience, Steve Coogan and Rob Byrdon may look familiar, but you may not recall why. Steve Coogan in the UK is known for his character of Alan Partridge, however in America he may be better known for "Tropic Thunder" or "The Other Guys". Rob Byrdon in the UK is known for his various TV series performances and his list of voice impersonations, however in America he is mostly known for "a small man trapped in a box".
Whether you know Steve and Rob is absolutely irrelevant to the enjoyment of the film. Apparently, the two are known for a TV series of the same name and some familiar may hold a preference towards the original. I feel that the film stands on its own and is designed to reach a larger audience. The TV series and the film is about Coogan as a food critic for the UK's Observer who is joined on a working road trip by his friend (Brydon) who fills in at the last minute when Coogan's romantic relationship falls apart. The film comes across as being improvised and forcing the emotional element. With the talent of Steve and Rob the comedy works well with their many voice impersonations and competitive banter. However, the melancholy moments seem trite and lack the background necessary to properly connect with the character.
The voice impersonations of Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Woody Allen, Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman provide most of the comedy as Steve and Rob compete with each other to prove who is better. There is a rather poignant moment when Steve realizes that he is not as talented as Rob contributing to a better understanding of why he is currently struggling in his acting career. The tone of the film can be captured by a few lines between the Steve and Rob, "you spend your birthdays in your 20s using alcohol, your 30s with drugs, and your 40s with food". The trip is a self reflective moment in the life of Steve and ends abruptly much like real life. The audience was almost surprised when "THE END" appeared on the screen wondering "now what?", but that is how life can be sometimes.
While the movie as a whole didn't exactly work, the comedy was perfect and provided many laughs. Combined with the picturesque views of Northern England captured and I feel the film is worthy of 4 quacks. You will likely have to find this film at more of an art house theater or later on DVD, but when you do it will be worth it.
(screening date 6/14/11, release date LIMITED, location Landmark E Street Cinema)