Review: Coogan, Brydon are great company in latest ‘Trip’

By Jake Coyle | Associated Press

Most franchises that have made it to four films have by then
traipsed the galaxy, pulled off a series of daring heists or freed
Willy many times over. The movies of “The Trip,” however, have
gotten this far almost entirely on the volition of Michael Caine
impressions.

Michael Winterbottom’s four “Trip” movies, with Steve
Coogan and Rob Brydon, are certainly more than that — but not
much more. And that’s no slight. The exceedingly low stakes of
these movies are part of their appeal.

No matter how exotic the surroundings — England’s Lake
District, the Italian coast, Spanish countryside and now the Greek
isles — there’s no setting that can stop Coogan and Brydon from
falling into their familiar patterns of passive aggression and
one-upmanship. Emerson wrote of travel, “My giant goes with me
wherever I go.” For Coogan and Brydon, it’s the same, only with
Mick Jagger impressions. The meals may change, but the banter stays
the same.

“The Trip to Greece,” which premieres on digital and cable
video-on-demand on Friday, is the fourth and purportedly final
voyage for Brydon and Coogan. While setting off on their Greece
trip, following the steps of Odysseus, they mark the passing of
time — 10 years since they began. Their features are a little
less sharp but they’ve both aged well, they agree. “You were
unpalatable as a younger man,” says Brydon.

“The Trip” (and their preamble of Al Pacino impressions in
Winterbottom’s preceding “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull
Story”) remain the best of these films. I think ever since, those
of us who keep returning come hoping for a bit as good as their
first volley of Caines or their glorious “Gentlemen to Bed”
improv.

But that hasn’t kept the sequels since from being charming
even while their stars are being deliberately irritating. The
set-up of “The Trip to Greece” is the same as the last ones,
and likewise first ran as a six-part BBC miniseries. Coogan and
Brydon, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, are
conscripted to write an article about a culinary tour.

On their Grecian trip, there are occasional nods to their mythic
path as well as to the world around them. There’s a brief,
awkward encounter with a migrant camp. But on the whole, the
primary tension in “The Trip to Greece,” as before, is in who
can quip better, and whether their bubble of battling egos and
petty jealousies can be burst by anything — or even if we want it
to be. When Brydon asks Coogan what he’s most proud of, Coogan
doesn’t hesitate. “Hmm. My seven BAFTAs,” he replies.

This sun-dabbled outing brings impressions of Jagger (with
claps), Dustin Hoffman, a version of “Stan Laurel and Tom
Hardy” (Coogan starred in the recent “Stan and Ollie”), and,
naturally, a few bars from “Grease.” As always, Coogan and
Brydon are comedy opposites who nevertheless speak precisely the
same language.

Beneath the bickering, Winterbottom has always hinted at deeper
midlife melancholia and mixed in interruptions from home. In “The
Trip to Greece,” Brydon has a moment of discomfort hearing that
his wife is unexpectedly not at home. Coogan’s father is suddenly
ailing.

What I think makes the “Trip” movies so gently endearing is
in how Winterbottom doesn’t elevate or diminish the pointless
riffs of his stars with the graver matters around them. It’s all
of a piece. The “Trip” movies were initially inspired by
Sterne’s “Tristram Shandy” follow-up, “A Sentimental
Journey Through France and Italy,” a novel that likewise didn’t
differentiate between the high and low of life. Another way of
saying that is: Michael Caine impressions are just as valuable as
anything else.

Watching “The Trip to Greece” at a time when such travel is
impossible has only heightened the considerable pleasures of these
movies (and made the food all the more appetizing). But mostly
it’s reinforced the simple delight of sitting table-side with
Coogan and Brydon. For all their trivial sparring, they are
exceedingly good company.

“The Trip to Greece”

3 stars out of 4

Unrated

Running time: 103 minutes

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
Review: Coogan, Brydon are great company in latest
‘Trip’