The third edition of this combination buddy pic/travel documentary franchise is neither a box office nor critical darling. But actor-comedians Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rob Brydon (Cinderella) have found a mostly satisfying recipe.
Like the first two Trip movies, this one is concocted from a six-episode BBC television series. Director Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart) parted-out the first offering admirably, and beats the second edition here.
The premise is the same: Coogan and Brydon pair up to review a half-dozen restaurants and we're privy to their mealtime banter, as well as their often more reflective road-trip dialogue about what it means to be successful and happy, how we get there and with whom we choose to share the journey. It always includes impressions—the Michael Caine exchange from the first film is an absolute classic—and this time around the two are at their best when swapping takes on Mick Jagger and David Bowie. There's Brando and De Niro and John Hurt. And more Michael Caine. There's even Brydon doing Mick Jagger doing his own Michael Caine impression, which is a feat that's over before you realize how smart it was.
This is familiar ground—all of it—but it's also comfortable ground. There's a bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm to the pair's interaction, and this is largely entertaining, often hilarious and not afraid to veer into the awkward. But occasionally it falls flat, such as when Brydon and Coogan lapse into Roger Moore impressions. We're supposed to be in on the joke that they sometimes can't stop themselves, but even still, we're left feeling like they should have.
Winterbottom's ending is patently weird, and he would have done well to give us more of back-of-the-house restaurant meal prep that so ably set the tone for the series. Still, you'll walk away hungry and, for the most part, happy. (Matt Grubs)
+ Gorgeous travelogue
- Occasionally tedious dialogue
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The Trip to Spain