Fans of comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon will appreciate this reprising of their freewheeling dramatized roles from “Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” (2005) in a road trip mockumentary.
Hired by “The Observer” newspaper in London to rank and review upscale restaurants throughout the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales in rural northern England, Steve Coogan discovers to his dismay that he needs a companion after his girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley) bows out at the last minute. In desperation, since everyone else has turned him down, he invites Rob Brydon. Travelling together in a Range Rover, they not only drive and dine but also randomly impersonate celebrities like Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Woody Allen, Hugh Grant, Richard Burton, Al Pacino, Ian McKellan, Alec Guinness and Liam Neeson, among others. And, as the dig into six different meals at six diverse establishments, the bantering, bickering and philosophizing, particularly about the exquisite agony of fame, never ceases.
Or as Coogan’s (fictional) father dryly observes, “It’s really exhausting, keeping all of this going all the time, isn’t it?”
Helmed by British director Michael Winterbottom, who previously collaborated with Coogan and Brydon on “24 Hour Party People” (2002), it’s rambling, episodic and uneven – while the persistent whining, one-upmanship and quasi-camaraderie of these two middle-aged men drags on quite a bit longer than required, becoming quite tiresome. That’s not surprising since the goofy, improvisational concept was originally broadcast as a popular six-part BBC2 series, which was wisely divided into half-hour – or bite-sized – segments. Apparently, the theatrical release is the compilation version.
For those who are curious or planning a similar gastronomic journey, here’s the list of fine restaurants they rate: The Inn at Whitewell (www.theinnatwhitewell.com), L’Enclume (www.lenclume.co.uk), Holbeck Ghyll (www.holbeckghyll.com), Hipping Hall (www.hippinghall.com), The Yorke Arms (www.yorke-arms.co.uk), and The Angel at Hetton (www.angelhetton.co.uk). And it’s at L’Enclume that they sample those lollipops made of morsels of duck fat with peanuts.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Trip” is a silly, self-indulgent 6, a leisurely, yet competitive, culinary tour de farce.