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The Trip (2011)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Is the film worth your time?

The Trip comes off like two guys taking a trip. Not an odyssey, a trip. A week long trip, different place each night, lots of talk — often laugh-out-loud talk — on the road and at dinner. Yet the film sets a context and contrast for much more to be subtly, very subtly, happening along the way. When my friend and I saw The Trip, two couples walked out, but I couldn’t understand it. I was riveted to the character interactions — normal, everyday interactions — and how these interactions were speaking about who these guys are. The Trip is fun throughout, and eventually the contrast between the two guys does turn the trip into an odyssey.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take their own names in the film, making it a fictional autobiography and removing one degree of separation from seeing the characters as real people, for whom we can have real interest and compassion. There are very few credits before (or after) the film, and there is very little plot before they start on the trip (pretty much only Steve making a bottom-of-the-list invitation/plea to Rob), so we are simply thrown into it. Like Somewhere, the film’s excellence is in its ordinariness — it’s ability to bring out the joy and life that is there in each moment, or not, according to how we live it. The questions The Trip asks center on what brings us life, and its challenge to us is to live, and to live at two levels: moment-by-moment, seeing and making life from each moment, and over the long haul, understanding what our moments add up to.

The Trip is definitely worth seeing. Put yourself in road trip mode and enjoy the moments of laughter, of friendly competition, of English countryside, of gourmet food (and humorous takes on it), of dinner conversation, of self-reflection, of taking oneself both lightly and seriously. And have fun with the reminder that, even on the sameness of days on the road, if you pay attention, you can see that you are getting somewhere, and that “Where?” is the endgame question.

Steve Coogan is between acting jobs. He’s stuck in television, waiting for and not being offered the feature film roles he wants. So, he takes up an assignment from The Observer to review a number of restaurants in England’s Lake District. He planned it with his girlfriend, but she backed out. He runs down his list of friends, eventually landing on the reluctant, but in the end willing, Rob. Off they go, and the film repetitively cycles through driving-and-conversation (with wonderful English scenery), checking in at a hotel, dinner-and-conversation mixed with foodie talk and gourmet kitchen scenes, more dinner-and-conversation, and phone calls back home — and then there is evening and there is morning, another day. A few extra excursions and stops along the way, and you have a bit of real life — but real life that adds up to something more. Running time: 107 min.

There’s language in The Trip, some of it strong, though it is not pervasive or highly prominent. There is sexual language and innuendo, which is strongest between a husband and wife, as well as some sexual behavior, which is implied by quick morning-after sequences.

  • Director: Michael Winterbottom
  • Screenplay: there was no script, only improv based on a broad setup by Winterbottom
  • Leads: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
  • Cinematography: Ben Smithard
  • Music: Michael Nyman


NOTE: Although Before viewing talks don't have spoilers, comments below MAY have spoilers
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