MOVIE: THE TRIP TO SPAIN
STARRING: STEVE COOGAN; ROB BRYDON
DIRECTED BY: MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Each time I've watched one of the three Trip movies, from director Michael Winterbottom, I can't help but think about my best friend Patrick Boyle. I've known him since I was two, was the best man at my wedding, and he comes to mind, because these films have become the quintessential display of friendship, humor, and male bonding. As I get older in life, I too hope that I can go on a European journey with Patrick, driving along the countryside, laughing, and enjoying the time away from things that wear us down such as work and family. This time, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return for a third serving of delectable food, wine, beautiful settings, and plenty of Michael Caine impersonations. Without a doubt, The Trip to Spain is one of the funniest movies of the year, capping off a superb trilogy of true friendship.
If you have already seen The Trip and The Trip to Italy, you know the set up is more of the same, Steve Coogan (from The Other Guys & Philomena) has been given another task of writing about restaurants in a country and this time it is Spain. As usual, he calls his travel buddy Rob Brydon (Cinderella; The Huntsman: Winter's War), as he looks up at his screaming baby boy, it's not hard for him to instantly say yes. Back on the road they go, two men, middle aged, getting together on these trips that start as escapes, but turn into reflections of where they are in life.
One of the easier comparisons of these films is Richard Linklater's Before Trilogy, which are long conversation films between a couple in multiple stages of their relationship. What director Michael Winterbottom has made to perfection here, is balancing the images of delicious food, beautiful country side, humor, and drama. The storylines for Steve and Rob are relatively fictional, although rooted in some truths. Steve has a bit of a big head, what with the success of his Oscar nominations for Philomina, while he struggles with his love for a married woman, and his distant relationship from his son. Rob's career, on the other hand, has been at his own pace, where he has found solace in his two beautiful children and loving wife. The yin and yang of their careers are the exact struggles and questions that most people battle with. Am I happy with where I am at? Can I run away from my problems? Where do I find happiness in life and when is it ever enough?
What makes The Trip to Spain easy to enjoy is the humor, which is always bubbling underneath their mealtime conversations. The first two films introduced the many brilliant actor impersonations that Coogan and Brydon can embody, and boy do we get more here. From Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Woody Allen, and of course Michael Caine. All of them a laugh riot, even though some sequences run too long, I still found myself enjoying the light hearted poking between friends.
The third time around is definitely the charm, although I would not say this is the best of the three, Winterbottom is having fun circumventing his two characters. The ending left me a bit cold, as Steven deals with his own personal failures in his career, finding himself lost in the world, while Rob is the one with quite a happy life. Either way, there is still much to enjoy in The Trip to Spain. It's another successful journey, with two guys that make each carefree adventure more enjoyable than the last. I do hope me and Patrick can recreate this someday, especially because I do a great impersonation of Michael Caine.
Written by: Leo Brady