While perhaps better known for his indie films in the US, British actor Steve Coogan has a career at home that includes a frenenemy. That man is Rob Brydon, and they spoof their “relationship” with great gusto in The Trip from director Michael Winterbottom. Playing a loose characterization of himself, Coogan is on a trip to sample and write about fine restaurants in Northern England, and when his girlfriend drops out at the last minute, he begrudgingly takes Brydon along. The banter between the two comics is telling as both men use comedy to mask their true emotional distress. Coogan is dealing with the breakup of his relationship, and Brydon is missing his baby and wife while on the road.
Of particular note are the spot-on impersonations, offered by both actors, including dueling Michael Caine’s along with James Bond and other notable British icons. While both actors shared the screen in Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, this is different. We tend to think of Coogan for his turns in Tropic Thunder, Hot Fuzz and Hamlet II, which did not require much beyond mugging for the camera. While not hilarious, this film does have fits of comedy, which are offset with somber moments that most of us can relate to. Coogan displays more range than we have seen previously, and Brydon made me want to seek out his other work for comparison.
What starts out looking like a lighthearted romp with two comedians riffing quickly turns into a character study of sorts, with friendship, loyalty and loneliness playing parts as well. While not a laugh-riot, this film is worth a look for the way these actors balance the serious with the comical in their roles.
The Trip is playing the Loft Cinema starting July 29, 3233 E. Speedway Boulevard. For showtimes visits LoftCinema.com 795-7777.