Friday, 2 September 2011

The Trip Review

I had to see this movie.  It's a British comedy playing at Saskatoon's Broadway Theatre.  I'm just wired that way.  I do have to throw in a disclaimer here though.  Last December my girlfriend and I drove through Northern England and I fell in love with it.  So seeing the countryside and the small towns and narrow roads was quite nostalgic for me and I enjoyed it just for that.  Your experience with the film may not have that.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon basically play themselves.  They are two semi-famous actors on a trip through Northern England.  Coogan is reviewing restaurants and Brydon tags along as a last minute replacement for Coogan's girlfriend.  Both are at the same point in their careers but are on different paths.  Coogan wants more out of his career and Brydon seems to be content being a one trick pony that entertains people.  In this regard it is quite derivative of Ricky Gervais' sitcom, Extras, where Gervais wants to make it big and seems to be stuck doing a catch phrase but realizing success in doing so.  However, in the Trip, they've split the Gervais character in two and had them interact with one another.  In these interactions, they basically try to change each other to be more like themselves.  The result is a very funny and well made movie.

The Trip is very well written.  Whether or not it was scripted or improvised is immaterial (improvisation is nothing more than quick writing in your head).  The resulting dialogue between Coogan and Brydon becomes laugh out loud funny.  The parts where they are in the car or sitting at the restaurants talking to each other have some of the best quick and witty dialogue I've seen in a while.  Coogan's understated deadpan (which they even acknowledge) compliments Brydon's over the top impressions perfectly.

But the movie is much more than just one liners between friends.  It is also a moral journey for Coogan who, through the course of events, learns that there is more to life than just his career and the fame that seems to elude him.  Over the course of the entire two hours you can really see the character grow.  The problem is that it takes two hours.  There comes a time about three quarters of the way through the film that you think, "that's enough.  You aren't doing anything new.  It's time to wrap up."  So it runs a little long.  I also said that the dialogue between Coogan and Brydon is great.  But when that ends and the more artsy, reflective stuff happens, the pace of the movie seems to slow significantly.  There is this constant roller coaster of laughing and reflection that seems to happen too quickly.

When all is said and done though, there is enough comedy in those reflective parts to keep you entertained.  While they do seem to be dramatic valleys, they aren't as deep as they could be. See it.  While it may go on a bit long the sheer number of laugh out loud bits makes it worthwhile to watch.

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