The Trip is a mockumentary about two actors, playing sort of warped versions of themselves. Steve Coogan, I’m sure a lot of people have seen in films, even if they don’t recognize his name. He was in Tropic Thunder, the Percy Jackson film, both Night at the Museum movies, etc. He’s most famous in England for playing Alan Partridge, though I must confess I haven’t the foggiest idea who or what that is. The other actor in this film is Rob Brydon. I haven’t a clue who he is. I’ve gleaned from the film that he is most famous as an impressionist and voice worker.
The plot to the film is actually quite similar to Sideways, a film that I absolutely adore. Two men who knew each other when they were younger reconnect over a road-trip revolving (in theory) around food (though in Sideways they are mostly interested in wine, not food). Similar to Sideways, one of the two is intelligent, bitter, a bit depressed, very lonely, and occasionally quite acerbic and mean. That would be Steve. The other is more gregarious, good-hearted, and less intelligent. That is Rob.
The two characters in this movie are truly dreadful people. Steve is simultaneously egomaniacal and incredibly insecure. He is only confident if Rob has a smaller room than him at each hotel they visit on their food tour. Rob, on the other hand, is one of those people who constantly need attention and need affirmation of how funny they are. I hate those people. He spends the entire movie doing impressions. It’s funny for about 10 minutes, then it’s just annoying, then it’s almost unbelievable.
So, if these are two horrible men, why spend two hours with them? Well, partially it is that they are so different and they are enduring time together. They are challenged by being together, and it’s honestly quite uncomfortable sometimes. Each begins to see himself through the other’s eyes. Well, to a point. There is no massive revelation, and no sense of enduring friendship. Mostly, there is discomfort. Which, from reading a few interviews about the film, was partially the point.
For my part, though, if I wanted to sit for a few hours with people who don’t understand each other, I’d go see my family. Maybe my enjoyment of the film was lessened by the fact that I didn’t recognize a lot of the cultural references. The Michael Caine, Sean Connery, and Woody Allen impressions were funny. The first time. But almost every other reference and impression was lost to me. I like to think I’m more versed in British culture than most Americans, but this reminds me how completely unaware I am of most of their TV culture. And this movie was not made for international consumption, in my opinion. I guess, the bottom line is that I wouldn’t recommend it for people not very familiar with British culture.