Continuing the formula which has proven to be very popular in both TV series and feature film form, Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip to Spain, for better or worse, once again sticks strictly to the itinerary.
Winterbottom’s original Trip in 2010 saw Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drive through the north of England, taking in the countryside, eating amazing looking food in gastro pubs, and doing impersonations. It’s the last bit that hooked people in.
Four years later and The Trip To Italy seemed like a natural extension on the formula. More impersonations, food samplings and more exotic locations. Given it’s success, a slight drift west along the Mediterranean to Spain was the logical next step.
The result is still highly enjoyable, as long as the two leads are in the same room. There are the usual subplots regarding the careers and family lives of the pair, but this is quite superfluous. We’re just here for the impersonations.
The old favourites are back, Brydon often slips into the guise of his fellow Welshmen Tony Hopkins and Richard Burton, but the solitary, accidental slip into Woody Allen proves the most irresistible routine.
There’s more than one James Bond exchange of the Roger Moore kind, which are also highlights. Generally it’s Brydon who excels, although Coogan proves to have the superior Ian McKellan and John Hurt.
Also new to the repertoire are Mick Jagger and David Bowie.
The other enjoyable constant in the films is hearing the two men muse on ageing (they were both 51 when this was made), song lyrics, and historical tidbits.
And of course, the food looks incredible. Seeing this on an empty stomach is not recommended.
After docking in at Santander, the port town that sees many a Brit arrive directly by ferry, the pair avoid the obvious destinations and we get to see some of Spain’s smaller towns and lovely, less traveled countryside.
Coogan and Brydon tend to polarise audiences, and as always they’re not afraid to show themselves in a less flattering light. Coogan allows himself to be the butt of jokes by big-noting himself at every opportunity regarding his recent critical success with Philomena, and takes a little too much pride in his ability to say a few words in Spanish (always sounding atrocious). Brydon meanwhile generally bores those around him by over relying on the impersonations that always go a little longer than anyone wants them to.
You probably already know if Brydon and Coogan are your kind of travelling companions. If you like the previous films, and don’t care much for surprises, you will probably like this too. If you didn’t, you probably have every intention of giving this a wide berth anyway.
The Trip to Spain is currently in limited release.
Richard Leathem @dickiegee