The Trip to Spain

Studio: Shout! Factory

Dec 26, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

People who have followed Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s “Trip” series have latched onto their patented banter and impersonations over plot, but the films are not entirely devoid of story. The overarching theme of The Trip and The Trip to Italy had been Coogan’s delusions of grandeur against a much more bleak reality. In the latest installment in Spain, because their characters are somewhat rooted in his actual reality -- and because Coogan’s actual reality included two recent Oscar nominations for Philomena –this bleakness is a tougher sell. As a result, while downing expensive wine, eating chorizo, and sparing with Brydon with their famous impersonations (we got Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro this time), Coogan is dealt with more personal and professional setbacks than in either of the previous films combined.

As the boys go off to Spain, Coogan’s newfound success has him working to become a premiere writer/performer. But with a script on the verge of being greenlit, he learns that his agent – who apparently boasts one of the most impressive Hollywood clienteles – has recently left his firm. Coogan is left off the list of clients invited to stay, putting the picture in jeopardy, a development he omits from Brydon. More personally, he’s recently fallen for a married woman with whom he had a tryst on set, but learns that she is pregnant. When he learns the child is not his, he’s not entirely sure how to feel. At the same time, his son informs him that he cannot join him in Spain because his girlfriend is pregnant, and the child is his.

Naturally, these developments are secondary to the Coogan/Brydon show, and we once again marvel at their seemingly natural chemistry and abilities. However, though these story elements don’t yield any grand developments individually, they work to provide a unique subtext to what would otherwise be casual, toss-away scenes. There’s loneliness to Coogan’s character, and here we feel it most when he interacts with Brydon, who comes to know far more than Coogan thinks. Their English banter might come off as thorny at times, but there’s an inviting warmth underneath, particularly from Brydon, that Coogan has always seemed a bit too proud to grasp.

Author rating: 6.5/10

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