I’ve never laughed as hard in a cinema as I did while watching Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip (2010). This film, also available as a six-part TV show, places real life actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on a gastro-adventure across mild English countrysides. Employed as food connoisseurs for a newspaper, they dine on all the very best foods, spiced with idle chat. Though the premise and certain plot-lines are fabricated, the conversation relies on ad-libbing from this well-oiled friendship of celebrity impressions and imagined scenarios that allow them to riff humorously for hours (don’t believe me, watch the bonus features of the “Gentlemen, to bed” scene). Brydon and Coogan met many years ago. Julia Davis gave Coogan (already well established in the industry by this point) a reel of Brydon’s work. Coogan later spotted Brydon in a pub and approached him to tell him he really had something there. Not long after, Brydon and Julia Davis were filming their BAFTA-winning Human Remains for Coogan’s Baby Cow production company. There were other projects, like Cruise of the Gods, but nothing makes use of Coogan’s and Brydon’s skills like The Trip.
Their celebrity impressions, though the funny-bone of the film, are also at the heart, knocking against the underlying theme of age. Their behavior is childish. They are grown men, yet they can’t seem to hold a normal conversation. Instead, they must battle via Michael Caine impression. At the same time, they are lamenting the end of their lives even though they are only in their forties. It seems to suggest that they are caught somewhere between not being old enough to be an adult and feeling nostalgic for the good old days. It begs the questions, what does it mean to be forty and how is a forty-year-old supposed to behave?
The Trip has a sequel, which is just as good and also comes in both feature film and television format, The Trip to Italy.