Michael Winterbottom, a filmmaker whose career is as diverse in its subject matter as that of Ang Lee, revisits the wit and charm of A Cock and Bull Story by teaming up again with comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon – you know, the guy who played Alan Partridge, and that Welsh chap who does impressions.
Coogan and Brydon again play themselves (you can say “versions” of themselves, but there are so many truths and likely-truths illuminated by their largely improvised chitchat that most of the laughs derive from that classic, close-to-the-bone humour we all witnessed from the mean-but-funny bully at school).
Coogan gets a gig from the Observer Sunday newspaper to drive around boutique hotels and restaurants in the north of England and write reviews. When his American girlfriend decides they need an hiatus, he begrudgingly invites new dad Brydon along. They spend their days driving from village to village, riffing and singing and trying to outdo one another’s impressions of everyone from James Bond to Anthony Hopkins to welsh actor Michael Sheen.
Winterbottom directed the BAFTA award winning TV series from which he built this film, splicing the episodes together so well that you don’t feel you’re watching anything less than a planned feature film. It is quite simply hilarious, air-gasping, side-splitting stuff – from the “Michael Caine-off” in one fine restaurant, to the well-observed examination of why men going into battle always decide to leave at “daybreak” (not “8:45 for 9 o’clock”). The humour lies in the sending-up of Coogan as the bigger star, but also the one who wants it desperately, against Brydon’s happy home existence and his online success with Small Man Trapped in a Box.
Two of Britain’s finest comedians, directed by one of Britain’s (and the world’s) most talented filmmakers, The Trip is indispensable viewing.