The Trip to Spain (M)
Rating: 3.5 / 5
“The two amigos are back!” shouts the publicity for the third film in The Trip series, starring Welsh actor Rob Brydon and his English actor/writer sidekick Steve Coogan.
The previous two Trip films had the boys eating and talking their way through northern England and Italy, and this time it’s Spain’s turn for the attentions of our heroes.
Every parent will identify with the opening scene where Rob Brydon is assailed by the loud cries from his crawling baby son. When he takes a call from Steve Coogan suggesting it’s time for another road trip, Rob takes all of five seconds to accept the invitation, with the support of his incredibly patient wife Sally who is quite happy to be the sole parent of their two children while Rob goes off on his boys’ own adventure for a week. A noble woman.
The relationship between Rob and Steve is an interesting one. It’s far too spiky and competitive to qualify as a ‘bromance’—perhaps affectionate sibling rivalry might be a better term. They remind the viewer of two competitive brothers, who are genuinely fond of each other but are also constantly trying to top each other’s stories and achievements.
This one-upmanship is certainly done with style and a real sense of taking the mickey, both out of each other and themselves.
Coogan and Brydon are playing exaggerated versions of themselves, and they make a good study in contrasts. Coogan seems to be always striving for reassurance, whether it be from his lover in America or from his agent. Brydon seems more comfortable in his own skin, secure in his family life and simply a happier chap.
Their camaraderie makes the trip a good one for us to be a fly on the wall. When they depart from their blokeyness and actually share their real feelings with each other, we see them as sensitive New Age guys, rather than the archetypal British stiff upper lip variety.
Visually, this film is a treat for the senses. The camera work is superb, and takes us on a journey through Spain with our protagonists.
Obviously, food is a big focus of the film, and we are tantalised by scenes of appetising delicacies being prepared in restaurant kitchens and then served to our most appreciative travellers.
While the scenes involving other characters would be scripted, the banter and stream of consciousness and constant competing Roger Moore impressions from both actors indicate a fair degree of improvisation. Perhaps it was trial and error, giving Brydon and Coogan free rein and then editing it into what would work as a finished product.
We will never know, and that’s part of the intrigue of these part travelogue, part human relationship journeys on film.
Apart from an irritatingly inconclusive ending, this is an enjoyable epicurean 115 minutes at the cinema.
Highlight: cinematography of Spain
Red flag: strong language and adult themes