‘The Trip to Spain’ Film Review
The boys are back.
After a highly successful first voyage in The Trip (2010) and its equally brilliant sequel, The Trip to Italy (2014), comedy duo/best friends/worst enemies Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return to the screen once again to sample some of the world’s finest cuisines, take in some of the world’s most beautiful sights, and razz the hell out of each other in The Trip to Spain.
Three years since their last journey together, we find Steve recently returned from the US after filming a new television series. To publicise the show, he’s embarking on a trip around Spain to review six restaurants across six cities. Rob, now a middle-aged father of two, agrees to once again take on the role of co-reviewer, travel companion and bane of Steve’s existence as the two gallivant across from the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean Coast over one week.
Coogan and Brydon are, as always, a comic tour de force. Dining and driving against the backdrop of some of Spain’s most breathtaking views, the two consistently manage to steal the screen with their ridiculous impressions (the David Bowie is particularly excellent), and barrage of insults delivered with an impressive level of poker-faced subtlety only possible between two such equally matched comic geniuses. What makes these scenes even more fun is the fact that their barbs are fired just as much at themselves as they are at each other – Coogan particularly being wonderfully self-deprecating – making the two men insanely likeable.
Director Michael Winterbottom – the same man who brought us the first two Trip projects – has cleverly structured the film to break up these hilarious tête-à-têtes with scenes of somber solitude for both men. In these moments, we are given a glimpse into the mundane reality behind the pair’s comic frontage as they Skype with their families or confront professional crises in the dim lights of their separate cabins. Contrasted with the plentiful banter and fun of their daytime escapades, these scenes reveal Coogan and Brydon’s talent for naturalism as well as comedy, crafting backstories that feel both real and relatable.
The film is at its strongest when the two of them are together, and so it makes sense that once we see the trip interrupted by other characters, it starts to slow down. The entry of publicists Emma (Claire Keelan) and Yolanda (Marta Barrio) moves the story into a sense of melancholy as the trip comes to an end, and Coogan and Brydon must return to face the reality of their respective lives. That is not to say that the film becomes less engaging, but the pace and comedy certainly takes a turn. While I was secretly hoping the ending might serve as a prequel to Winterbottom’s surprise next film Steve and Rob Live in Spain Together Forever (fingers crossed for 2018), its actual conclusion was surprisingly affecting, though it made me pine for the joyful farce of the first hour.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive review of Spain’s best restaurants and tourist spots, then this film isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking to laugh very consistently for a good hour and a half at some of the best celebrity impressions and onscreen comedy chemistry you’ve seen in a while, then it definitely is the film for you. The Trip to Spain is another massive success for Coogan and Byrdon, proving once again the pair are truly a match made in heaven.
I would highly recommend going back to watch the first two ventures before viewing this latest project. You don’t need to see them to understand this one, but they, too, are just so darn funny.
The Trip to Spain is in cinemas August 3.