Director: Michael Winterbottom
Studio: British Broadcasting Corporation
Line for line, insult for insult, The Trip is the year’s most addictively quotable movie. Director Michael Winterbottom has boiled down to 100 minutes nearly three hours of a largely improvised, often prickly TV sitcom featuring protean Brit comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
This blisteringly funny broken bromance about absolutely nothing has the duo, playing variations on themselves and their public personae, traveling to six posh Northern England restaurants Coogan has been hired to review for London's The Observer; the happily married Brydon gets invited along because Coogan’s girlfriend has dumped him and headed back to America. Brydon and Coogan's already hyper-competitive, combative friendship grows even more strained as they drink, dine, debate music and literature, swap hilarious Michael Caine impressions, savagely-one up each other and compare the state of their respective show business careers. These days, the glib, cheerful magpie Brydon’s fortunes are soaring, while the artistically inclined, tabloid-friendly, tortured soul Coogan’s career is, thanks to some terrible movies, more wobbly.
“I've got an albatross around my neck and it's got the face of Michael Sheen,” complains Coogan acridly.
“Never be hot, always be warm,” Brydon advises the career-challenged Coogan, who fires back: “I’d rather have moments of genius than a lifetime of mediocrity. I’d rather be me than you.”
As fast, sharp and facile as these two are, though, when their navel-gazing conversations ramble on far too long, The Trip sometimes feels claustrophobically self-indulgent—like being trapped in a car with a brilliant, tortured, narcissistic friend so in love with his own pain that he absolutely refuses to shut up. But when that person is being played by Coogan, in full-blown midlife crisis, most of The Trip is not only hysterical and acrid but also unexpectedly touching.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2011. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.