Film Review: ‘The Trip’ Hilariously Reunites Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

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CHICAGO – There are few things more cinematically depressing than a funny comic trapped in an unfunny movie. Think Larry David in “Whatever Works.” Scene to scene, his eyes repeatedly indicate that there’s a funnier punchline residing in his mischievous skull than there is in the lifeless script. You know a picture’s in trouble when you find yourself yearning to watch the actor eat lunch rather than finish the godforsaken movie. Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The supposed masterstroke in Michael Winterbottom’s new comedy, “The Trip,” is that it consists of nothing more than two very funny men eating lunch. And dinner. And driving in the car to the next restaurant. There isn’t a conventional plot (or script) to get in the way of the performers’ improvisational genius. In the opening moments of the film, the actors are heard riffing over the phone, sliding into the personas they mastered together in Winterbottom’s 2005 comic gem, “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.” The riffing continues for the next two hours.

StarRead Matt Fagerholm’s full review of “The Trip” in our reviews section.

Audiences less inclined to appreciate the subtle nuances of dry British deadpan may find this film rather irritating, but I was thoroughly enthralled by it. I admire the confidence with which Winterbottom centers his focus solely on the faces, the voices and the richly textured behavior of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Their extended bickering over the end credits in “Tristram Shandy” was easily my favorite part of the film, and left me craving for more. Perhaps “The Trip” is almost too much of a good thing. Winterbottom allows his camera to continue rolling until Coogan and Brydon have explored every last ounce of a promising sketch. Some scenes are simply funnier than others. A handful reach the heights of inspired genius, while a few threaten to grind the film to a halt. Yet the movie never truly outstays its welcome, and once it’s over, viewers might feel compelled to rewind back to their favorite parts. Ever the versatile artist, Winterbottom infuses the picture with the same guerilla-style filmmaking and mumblecore-esque looseness he brought to 2008’s criminally overlooked drama, “A Summer in Genoa.” There’s an aching poignance in the final reel that causes the film to become something more than a glorified exercise in actorly indulgence

‘The Trip’ stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. It was directed by Michael Winterbottom. It opened June 17 at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema and the Landmark Renaissance Place. It is not rated.

StarContinue reading for Matt Fagerholm’s full “The Trip” review.

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan star in Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip.
Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan star in Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip.
Photo credit: IFC Films

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