As with the two earlier “Trip” films, The Trip to Spain serves up laughs, fine food and scenery – but maybe 3 courses are enough.
The Trip to Spain is the third in the series of Michael Winterbottom-directed faux docos, the previous being The Trip (set in the UK) and The Trip to Italy. The “Trip” flicks adhere to a format that has proven a winner thus far: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing fictionalised versions of themselves, traipse around scenic locales, riffing off each other and seeking to outdo each other’s impersonations of famous actors, rock musos and other celebs in an apparently extemporised comedy routine while sampling top-notch nosh on the tab at notable restaurants. Not a bad gig. And not bad for audiences. You know what to expect, and the guys deliver.
Thing is, it’s all getting a bit – what? Not tedious, not quite stale. Over-familiar.
Spain would seem a good choice for the third Trip. It’s hot with food fashionistas at the moment and offers some spectacular coastal and inland travelogue visuals, a colourful cultural milieu, and for Anglo viewers a sense of the exotic. Much the same as Italy, then.
Unfortunately, the food is given even less priority here than usual, and that’s a pity. There are tantalising glimpses of some gorgeous fare, but nothing close to food porn. You wonder whether the camera guys aren’t old-school poms whose culinary interests are limited to fishnchips, eggnchips and currynchips.
As with the other Trips, it’s all about the lads, but the spotlight’s a bit too fixed on them. Oh, Coogan and Brydon are still on their game, and if you enjoyed their previous trips, you’ll enjoy this one, too. They’re still building on madcap scenarios in that peculiarly Brit way (eg: Brydon brings the house down – he did mine, at least – with a crackpot history lesson on Roger Moore’s Moorishness and his contribution to Moor-influenced Spanish culture). They’re still seeking to outdo and pay out on each other. And they’re as astute as ever in applying a cartoonist’s cruel eye in mining their targeted celebs for comedy in their impersonations. Mick Jagger and his trademark on-stage effeminate double-handed maracas-beside-the-head move comes in for the full Coogan treatment. Coogs trots it out a few too many times, but it never failed to draw chuckles at the screening I attended.
In among the tomfoolery there’s the usual commentary on their contrasting domestic and career situations. With Brydon the family man and Coogan the Peter Pan, each is simultaneously defensive about where they’re at and envious of the other without acknowledging it. There’s pathos in this, but where that was well exploited in the previous films, it falls a little flat here. Once surprising, it is now expected, and this is the problem with the entire film. We’ve seen it all before. The 115 minutes running time doesn’t help. Some judicious editing could have been applied to reduce it by 30 minutes.
There’s a silly and somewhat jarring ending that hints at a new direction for the next film, but I hope there isn’t one.
It’s been a nice run, lads, but the Trip needs to end here. Three courses are ample. It’s been fun.
Australian release date: The Trip to Spain in Australian cinemas from 3 August 2017
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