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United Kingdom 2017
Directed by
Michael Winterbottom
115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Trip To Spain

Synopsis: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon go on a road trip through Spain, sampling the fine food and sights along the way.

The team of Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have developed a winning formula with The Trip (2010) and The Trip To Italy (2014): a couple of very talented comedians, Brydon, a staple of British television game shows and Coogan, creator of the faux media celebrity Alan Partridge and a well-credentialed film and television actor play themselves as they go on a week-long road trip through some picturesque countryside and dine at some fine restaurants while sniping at each other’s egos and trying to outdo each other with their wit and impersonations of people like Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Marlon Brando

Although it is not absolutely essential to have seen those films (both were originally television series) it is assumed that you have and that you have come back for more of the same. In this respect The Trip to Spain does not disappoint.  Coogan and Brydon are brilliantly funny, expanding their repertoire of celebrity impersonations by adding Mick Jagger, John Hurt and Roger Moore to their roster of usual suspects as well as in a breathtakingly bold sequence riffing on David Bowie singing about whether he should follow Brydon on Twitter. They also throw in for good measure some priceless play-acting (an Inquisitorial wracking, a hearing aid malfunction and so on). Added to this the food looks divine and the Spanish countryside to die for.

In its best moments The Trip To Spain is comedically inspired (interestingly there is no credit for a writer suggesting that it was all ad-libbed) but it also relies heavily on recycling – particularly of the testy relationship between the two men and the pathos of the Coogan character who has now arrived at a time in his life when his star is clearly on the wane, the song 'The Windmills of Your Mind' which features prominently being a kind of tacit statement of the sobering underlying idea that all is vanity.

Although Winterbottom sets up the possibility for a fourth edition the film ends oddly with Coogan stranded on a Moroccan highway as a ute full of Arab males approach. It seems to belong to another film altogether.  Winterbottom is nothing if not inventive so we’ll just have to wait and see what, if anything, it means.




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