Dave White
The Trip Review

Dave's Rating:

3.5

Road to Anxiety

Who's In It: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

The Basics: Playing fictionalized versions of themselves and improvising every step of the way, British comic actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take a road trip through the north of England, eating in the kind of molecular gastronomy-oriented restaurants where seaweed foam is artfully sprayed on top of perfectly pan-seared scallops, annoying each other with competing Michael Caine impersonations and betraying their insecurities. That's kind of it. Expect complex characters, not complicated plot.

What's The Deal: Almost in direct opposition to the kind of extended male adolescence on display in most contemporary comedies, this movie deals directly with two really funny guys who've been grown-ups for a while and know full well that they're getting old. You realize exactly where the movie's going when fortysomething Coogan and Brydon spend a scene discussing their receding gums and the subsequent problem of food getting stuck in their teeth. For one it's a deterrent to his dating life, to the other it's just funny and even funnier that his friend is still dating and worrying about how he looks around the opposite sex. They're competitive about their acting careers, nervous about their professional prospects and always jockeying to be seen as the cool one, but they never let it get in the way of hilariously friendly ball-busting. That's why, not counting Louis CK's series Louie, it's the funniest example of middle-aged guy anxiety around right now.

To See More: See Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, where Coogan and Brydon are playing these same unreal versions of themselves while acting in a film version of the novel Tristram Shandy. It's not essential that you see that one first, it's just a nice companion piece.

To See Even More: Occasionally the character of Alan Partridge is referenced here, assuming that the audience knows who this is. UK audiences will, but Americans might not. He's Coogan's most famous TV character--a blowhard failure of a radio host--and you should hunt down anything you can find on DVD because it's bitterly hilarious. Meanwhile, this movie originated as a six-episode TV series in the UK, then chopped down to 127 minutes for an American theatrical release. And it's available on DVD, too, if all this one does is whet your appetite for more of the same.

Advice: Don't see it on an empty stomach. The expensive food on display will just torment you.

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