Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Trip

In The Trip (2010; dir. Michael Winterbottom) two moderately well known British comedians travel around together in northern England sampling the food at various hotels and restaurants.  They try to outdo one another with impersonations and jokes and heartfelt testimonials.  Playing fictional versions of themselves, Steve Dougan and Rob Brydon are amusing for long stretches, and then tiresome.  The film is entertaining, but not enough so to justify the sequel currently in theatres, A Trip to Italy.  What we really have here is a study of two men in middle age.  One is having difficulties with his girlfriend, who was supposed to be along for the journey but who declined to go along at the last minute.  Work is her excuse.  He invites Brydon in her place, oddly, both since he is a man and since they don’t get along that well, at least not initially.  Gradually they bond.  They have several adventures, and then they return home.  The film is mostly formless, its episodic shape dictated by the roads the two men travel, the hotels they stay in, villages they visit, people they meet.  It’s is based on a nine-hour British television series, edited down to the 107-minute length of the film.  Ninety minutes would have been preferable.  The underlying premise is that these two actors are likeable blokes and that we’ll enjoy their company, on screen at least.  In fact, I found them tedious, clueless (especially the man whose girlfriend didn’t come along).  Some view this sort of humor as sophisticated and diverting.  It’s really rather weak-minded.

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