"The Trip," the summer's hidden gem, will soon be on DVD: British comedy delights despite absence of plot and drama

Posted by Eli Cohen

In light of the summer film season — a season dominated by the likes of Michael Bay and Ryan Reynolds — "The Trip,'' a hilarious, quasi-documentary film starring British comics Steve Coogan (from ‘The Other Guys," "Tropic Thunder") and Rob Brydon, best known to American audiences as the traffic warden in "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," received meager attention.

However, that's not to say it was not well received. The comedic styles of the two actors are perfectly in sync, both with each other and with director Michael Winterbottom. This chemistry likely resulted from the trio's working together in the similarly hilarious "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story."

‘‘The Trip'' follows two comedians as they tour the finest restaurants of England. Initially meant as a get-away trip for Coogan and his girlfriend, Coogan is forced to invite Brydon when his romantic relationship fails. The two men share a like-despise relationship. Coogan chases after women and flaunts his success, while the less well-regarded Brydon spends the trip doing impressions and pissing Coogan the hell off. And yet, for every socially inappropriate, over the top Michael Caine, Al Pacino or Bond villain impression that Brydon does (brilliantly), Coogan feels the need to one-up him, or at least match him.

The insecurities of Coogan's character (a vastly exaggerated view of himself) shine through constantly. This is especially true when Brydon is recognized at a small hotel and Coogan, most egregiously, is not.

And of course, when the trip is over, Brydon goes back to his loving family, while Coogan is left to listlessly float around his impressively large city flat in what turns out to be a surprisingly gentle and touching ending.

"The Trip" is to posh British food what "Sideways" was to California wine snobs. Like Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, it soon becomes clear that neither Coogan nor Brydon has any idea what they're talking about when it comes to food. The most astute observation made about the cuisine is that the tomato soup is, in fact, quite tomato-y. But the actors seem to care about the food they're eating about as much as they care about the audience (which does not exist). Instead, the real focus of the film is on celebrity, success, friendship and, of course, how to pull off the perfect Michael Caine impression.

Adapted from a six-part BBC miniseries, "The Trip" does not have the action and excitement of American summer movies. It has no drama or suspense (except the occasional possibility of Coogan actually murdering his companion), and very little plot of which to speak. Yet, it is the perfect hidden gem of the summer. The performances are spot on: witty and profound, annoying and endearing. And, of course, the impressions are fantastic, as is the competition to see who can sound the most like a Bond villain while simultaneously sipping Cognac. This is a must-see movie — a true delight in a season of recycled storylines and plot-replacing visual effects.

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