Review by © Jane Freebury
For a road trip to work, so much depends on who you are with. So, if you’re thinking of being the third party aboard a Range Rover with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on a restaurant tour from Santander to Malaga, it’s wise to revise what you know.
As this is the third in the popular series, you’ll most likely know what you get for your money. I hopped on board with some reservations.
The earlier ‘trip’ films, one to England’s north and the other to Italy, are a reminder that it’s true what they say. People can be quite revelatory when they are facing the road ahead, rather than each other.
Unscripted, improvisational, that is the thrill
The formula has worked well. Coogan and Brydon pass the time on the highway or waiting for meals to arrive, by being entertaining, er, sometimes just showing off. We just happen to be watching. They riff off each other with celebrity impersonations, exchange snippets of trivia and reveal things about their personal lives that may be true to themselves or their personas. A bit of enhanced reality keeps it interesting.
Few filmmakers besides Michael Winterbottom can afford the risk of setting forth with so little prepared and get such good results. Unscripted, improvisational, that is, in essence, the thrill of The Trip films. It feels so immediate, as though you are actually present on set, wondering what they will come up next.
Can we look forward to trips beyond the road and on the waves, as they join the cruise set?
As the pair sat in restaurants carrying on at high volume while other diners pretended not to notice, my thoughts went to director Michael Winterbottom and his team. Were there free meals for the other diners if they undertook not to look at the camera? Was there the promise of being glimpsed in a popular film?
Now that they’re in the early 50s, Coogan and Brydon are paying more attention to their health, cycling and running. As they get bit by bit older, how far they will be prepared to go with Winterbottom, I wonder. Can we look forward to trips beyond the road and on the waves, as they join the cruise set?
To some extent too, we are prepared to accept Winterbottom’s approach to filmmaking – lots of improv, topical subjects, and an approach that is skilful, witty and urbane.
The downside is that it sometimes feels like a throwaway line or two, and too superficial by half. For that reason, I rather liked the unsettling and unexpected ending.
Though the upshot is that after this cock-and-bull story you may, like me, be hungry for more, after only having sampled the tapas.
Also published at the Canberra Critics Circle