THE TRIP TO SPAIN
Michael Winterbottom’s reliable comic road movie franchise, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon doing endless Michael Caine impersonations, is the best Cinema franchise going. The films are based on a British television sitcom from 2010. This third installment follows films where the duo toured northern England and Italy.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play close versions of themselves while going on another food-and-culture tour. This time, Spain has the pleasure of accommodating, or absorbing, the funny men whose verbal wrangling is the wry stuff of brilliant British humor.
The competitive man/boys attempt to outdo one another. While waiting for their dinner to arrive Coogan creates a constant high-pitched hum while appearing to speak normally. Rob Brydon picks up the bit and pretends to not be able to hear Coogan because his hearing-aid battery has died. The goof leads into Brydon doing his signature “Small-Man-In-a-Box” voice, which lives in a universe of bizarre hilarity.
Coogan reports, “life affirming butter” over the gourmet meal the men share while trying to crack each other up. Steve’s not imbibing this trip, so Rob is left to savor great wines alone.
Brydon makes fun of Coogan wincing due to shoulder pain. “You look like a tentative Nazi,” Brydon says in a camp German accent. The carrot juice is served.
Brydon draws blood when he holds out his fork with a piece of food that he informs Coogan, as his physician, of the good news that they’ve found the cyst and it’s benign, the bad news is that they’ve “found seven more of them.”
Steve Coogan just loses it, and so too does the audience. It's one of the funniest scenes I've ever witnessed.
The “Trip” films have the appeal of watching two comic masters riffing as you might experience while watching a Jazz duo (Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass, for example). Winterbottom puts a grace note of drama at the end that doesn’t fit the funny tone of the movie. It’s a mistake the director can fix during the next installment of this exquisite series of films.
Here's a freebie, courtesy of Steve Coogan. "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana." Ba-dum-bump. Thanks Mr. Coogan, thank you very much indeed.
The Trip to Spain is currently streaming on Netflix
Not rated. 108 mins. (A) (Five stars — out of five, no halves)