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THE TRIP (2010)

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THE TRIP (2010)

Friday, 10 January 2014 02:18

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     The Trip is a quintessentially British movie about very subtle topics. The movie was edited together from a quasi-mockumentary TV miniseries following British actors/comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing fictional versions of themselves, as they take a gastronomic tour of Northern England. Along with a peek at their five-star dining experiences, shot in classic BBC-documentary style, we observe the subtleties of the two men's friendship and professional competition, their differences and similarities as 40-something actors, and a whole lot of James Bond references. The Trip is seldom laugh-out-loud funny, but it's far more believable than most comedies, which gives it much more of a personal impact than you might expect from a “goofy road trip movie.”

 

Life of the Party (Positives):

     First of all, if you're a big Anglophile, or a foodie that loves Gordan Ramsay documentaries (the classy BBC stuff, not the hokey shout-fests on Fox), then just getting to admire the beautiful Northern countryside and watch chefs prepare exquisite dishes will be fun for you. The main focus, however, is on the men traveling through the countryside and eating the food, as we get to know each of them and enjoy the odd mix of hilarity and tension the whole time. Coogan and Brydon's characters are friends and colleagues, but not CLOSE friends, and there is an obvious feeling of competition between the two of them - Coogan is having trouble achieving mainstream success as an actor, while Brydon has found much greater fame in his low-brow career of “doing funny voices on the radio,” and signs a lot more autographs than Coogan does as a result. Despite their similar talents, the two men couldn't be more different in outlook, habits, and lifestyle, and the tension between them in most scenes creates great drama. Although Coogan's character often comes off as pretentious or self-important compared to his laid-back, cheerful companion, we see enough of his private life to feel at least a little bad for him and understand his restlessness, and his character develops well across the span of the film.

     In the end, this movie is a comedy, though, and there are plenty of hilarious moments just watching the two comedians play off of each other. All the scenes are shot in a very organic, documentary style, and though the dialogue had to be scripted to a degree, the flow of conversation seems completely natural rather than theatrical. Characters will step on each other's lines, interrupt, multiple conversations will be going on at once, such that you won't catch everything but it feels like simply joining some friends for a dinner party, or tagging along for a long drive through empty countryside. Coogan and Brydon are both amazingly talented impressionists, and in several scenes they'll go back and forth trying to out-“Michael Caine” the other, or engaging in a relentless “Scaramanga-Off.” Objectively, the scene is just two guys drinking wine and repeating the exact same movie quote over and over again, and yet it's hilarious, because that's exactly the sort of thing guys do while sitting around drinking. Though some comedic scenes do include more farcical elements, the best ones are when the stars are just sitting around bullshitting. Imagine all the best improvised jokes in Judd Apatow movies, then make it way more British, and you get this movie.

 

I would have included more pictures, but honestly this movie is mostly just a lot of this.

 

Potential Hangovers (Negatives):

     British humor is traditionally very dry, which makes for subtle, clever comedy. The problem with dry humor is that there's a fine line between dry and abrasive, and sometimes, when the two main characters are continually criticizing each other, they just seem like complete dicks. Considering the British tendency of keeping a stiff upper lip, it's also unclear whether either of them actually gets offended, and the overall atmosphere can feel a bit awkward for the audience. This adds to the drama, of course, but the parts where the characters are actually getting along are so fun that you wish they didn't have to snipe at each other constantly.

     One other nitpick is that, since this movie was edited down from a TV series, some comedy bits are repetitive, with the same jokes cropping up multiple times. This actually makes a certain amount of filmmaking sense, as it emphasizes the feeling of being stuck traveling with just one person for a whole week, and any friend, no matter how fun, gets tedious eventually. Since they contibute to the drama, it's tough to call either of these elements "flaws" of the movie, they're just "unpleasantnesses," which seems like a very polite and British way to put things.

 

The Atmosphere - Cocktail Party, Date Night, Solo Viewing:

     Earlier I compared The Trip to an Apatow movie, but actually, it's more like the TV show “Louie” - it's a somewhat dark, completely organic depiction of how comedians are often relatively unhappy, or, at the very least, they suffer just as many inconveniences and anxieties as everyone else. If you enjoy a little pathos mixed in with your witty banter and funny voices, The Trip is a thoughtful, well-grounded movie about friendship and self-discovery, great for a relaxed evening with a small group of Anglophiles who will get all the references, as a date movie, or just casual solo viewing. Recommended drinks include good wine served in unnecessary large glasses, or some heavy stouts to match the somber British weather on display.

 

+ Arresting conversations between two very funny and interesting guys (like My Dinner with Andre, but with more referential humor)

+ Subtle, relaxed pacing and organic delivery that still has room for intense drama

+ Man that food looks amazing

+/- Gets awkward and repetitive at times

 

Drinking Game Suggestions:

~Drink whenever the characters do

~Drink whenever somebody name-drops a famous writer

~Drink whenever Coogan answers his phone

~Drink whenever Brydon switches from one impression directly to another

~Drink whenever scallops are mentioned or seen, and drink whenever something is served topped with some kind of foam

Read 762 times Last modified on Friday, 10 January 2014 02:39

About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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