The Trip to Spain, B
Not Rated, 108 minutes
The entertaining, distinctly British comedy “The Trip to Spain” is easy comfort food: it’s satisfying and if you’re familiar with what came before, you know what you’re in for. The third film in “The Trip” series starring British actors Steve Coogan (“Philomena”) and comedian Rob Brydon that originated on British TV, it’s another humorous jaunt through old-world country, seeing the sights and dishing on just about everything under the sun. It’s also familiar territory and hardly anything new, but for those fans of this franchise and TV series, you won’t leave disappointed.
After jaunts through northern England and Italy, Coogan and Brydon embark on another deliciously deadpan culinary road trip. This time around, the guys head to Spain to sample the best of the country's gastronomic offerings in between rounds of their hilariously off-the-cuff banter. Over plates of pintxos and paella, the pair exchange barbs and their patented celebrity impressions, as well as more serious reflections on what it means to settle into middle age. As always, the locales are breathtaking, the cuisine to die for, and the humor delightfully devilish.
The loose, familiar and funny “The Trip to Spain” is written and directed by Michael Winterbottom (“The Road to Guantanamo”) and is a nice addition to this series, though admittedly, it’s not for those who enjoy lots of action and explosions and who dislike considerable amounts of dialogue. It’s essentially the “Seinfeld” of movie sequels and franchises: these two actors – playing fictional versions of themselves - traipse across the lovely sights of Italy talking and eating, sightseeing, with more talking and eating. Along the way, they muse on life, career and family, trying to make sense of what’s going on around them.
The banter and genuinely funny chemistry between the two actors is and been the highlight of these films, and “The Trip to Spain” is no different from their other trips. Sure, the location has changed, but their conversations have a similar thread, with Brydon’s impressions, including Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Roger Moore and most memorably, Marlon Brando, being the chief highlight (especially played against Coogan’s Robert DeNiro). Coogan’s career challenges are also fun to watch, especially when his new agent tries to get him “to do what James Corden is doing” and “to be the next Ricky Gervais.”
Though written and directed by Winterbottom, the script seems a loose outline, with seemingly lots of improvisation from the two, especially when they launch into an impression or extended conversation about something silly (such as how to pronounce musician Herb Alpert’s name), but Winterbottom’s familiarity with the two helps. For what it is, “The Trip to Spain” goes on too long, something as loose as this shouldn’t go on more than 90 minutes, and anything longer than that seems a little redundant and predictable.
On that note, “The Trip to Spain” is certainly charming and likable, yet will please Coogan and Brydon’s fans the most.