IFC Films 111 Minutes NR Reviewed August 21, 2017
This film is more than a travelogue. It’s the finale of “The Trip” trilogy with magnificent cinematography showing the picturesque hills and coastal villages in Spain. And, as in The Trip and TheTrip to Italy, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are the entertaining hosts who take us from town to town on a culinary adventure. Seeing the delicacies being prepared and watching these very funny travel buddies describe, taste and devour them, will make you drool.
The vistas are breathtaking, the winding roads along the coast lined with aqua and azure blue water, plus the quaint towns with their post card worthy hotels and restaurants. And then there’s the food. You get to see chefs preparing scrumptious local dishes like their grandmother made. And luscious cheeses Coogan and Brydon can’t get enough of. Don’t go to this movie hungry because you’ll be ravenous when it ends.
But the running commentary and non-stop banter of Coogan and Brydon is often in such famous voices as Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, David Bowie, Michael Caine, Mick Jagger, Woody Allen, Ian McClellan, Roger Moore and more. Coogan and Brydon spew celebrity impressions of the great actors sometimes doing battle trying to top each other. It’s not how it sounds that’s important as much as what they say that’s so clever. They’re both inspired to come up with some pretty witty improv even though it sometimes goes on just a touch too long.
Coogan has a dry sense of humor and frequently withdraws. He’s pining for a beautiful woman he claims to be in love with who is already taken and far away. It’s also a little sad how he tries to prove to others he’s a famous celebrity reminding anyone who will listen that he was nominated for an Academy Award, twice, for Writing and Producing Philomena a few years back. Many in Spain don’t seem to be impressed or know what he’s talking about and maybe that’s in the script. After all, self-deprecation can be funny.
Brydon talks incessantly. He’s always there with a wise crack and makes it clear he understands that he’s not the star of this show. More self deprecating humor. But the two together are like frick and frack. One minute you feel sorry for them, and then laugh out loud at their repartee and exhibition of their many talents.
But the star of this film is really Spain and the way it shows on the big screen. Director Michael Winterbottom who directed the first two of these films crafts multiple layers of the narrative to make the story a personal journey along with the food and the beauty of the country. Besides the scenic views and interior details of the hotels, restaurants and sites, you get to see both sides of their phone conversations, which give a better idea of how different their responsibilities and aspirations are.
The unique relationship between Coogan and Bryson is central to the film. These are friends, but they make it look like they’re not particularly close. The impression game they play is not just for laughs, it's thinly veiled competition and when Coogan perceives he might be losing, he exerts his Alpha status to shut it down. Through all the laughs, and there are a lot, there's an underlying sadness and insecurity to Coogan’s character. It’s contrived but makes him more interesting.
We found taking this adventure with these talkative talents a fun little exercise. They say it ’s the finale, but there’s a big world out there and plenty of excellent cuisine to taste in different cultures. Maybe they’ll get restless and hit the road again.