The Trip to Spain

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Michael Winterbottom’s travelogue trilogy once again teams British comedy legends Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, as they eat and talk their way through Spain. This is great news for me, as I love watching these two one-up each other in their passive-aggressive manner. Yet it also reminds me of that favorite restaurant you have, and the 10th time you go to it, you’ve grown a bit tired of the same items on the menu. It doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy your meal.

For those that don’t know the previous two films, or these two comedians, it’s a bit like Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Larry David plays a snottier, more exaggerated version of himself. And real celebrities are talked about in unflattering terms. These guys are a lot more subtle in their rants (except when they’re on the phone with agents). In fact, many times my wife was bored. That doesn’t mean she didn’t laugh when they impersonated David Bowie or Mick Jagger, or named dropped seeing him at a party once.

It’s funny listening to Coogan try to slip in the fact that he’s gotten two Oscar nominations for Philomena. Sometimes that’s with a waitress he wants to impress, or an agent that wants to bring in an “up and coming writer” to which he snaps, “I’m a writer, and I’m already up!”

Of course Brydon has a few digs about Philomena (“It’s been at least 9 or 10 minutes since you last talked about Philomena or Judi Dench.”).

A lot of this did seem repetitive, if you saw the first two movies (The Trip in 2010, The Trip to Italy in 2014). We get more Roger Moore and Michael Caine impressions. I laughed out loud listening to an impersonation of John Hurt. Seriously, who does John Hurt impressions, unless you’re screaming, “I am not an animal!”

It seems these movies rely a lot on improv, and that’s a shame. These are both such great writers, that I think they should’ve done a lot of these segments in dry-runs, and kept the conversations that worked. And if things weren’t as funny, write material. There were moments they’re talking about their age. One of those times involves Coogan dating a woman more than half his age. He’s also dealing with some drama regarding his son, who is set to join them on this trip.

Cinematographer James Clarke gets some credit for shooting the Spanish coast beautifully (although really, who wouldn’t be able to?).

There’s another scene that had me laughing out loud. It involved Coogan talking about the Moors, to two women at the table, and Brydon using this opportunity to slip into his Roger Moore accent. The more it frustrates Coogan, the more I laughed.

For every few scenes I loved, there was always one that fell flat. One of those involved the guys dressing up as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

From the opening joke that had me laughing out loud, when Coogan wants Brydon to go along on this trip and he agrees. Coogan says, “Great! My people will be in touch with….well…you.”

To the closing scene that might possibly end in Coogan’s death. But really, you have to be a fan of these two or it’s not for you. It’s comfort food for my comedic tastes. My wife…she wishes she would’ve ordered something else.

3 stars out of 5.