By now you may be familiar with the premise of The Trip.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon partner together reluctantly as they travel to a region to sample the local food and culture and write about it, while also filming a TV series.
These episodes are then compiled into a feature length film, with The Trip to Spain their third destination so far.
This instalment starts off well enough, with the pair departing the English coast at the spot where The Mayflower set off for the American Mainland. Coogan and Brydon are heading to the much more convenient Iberian Peninsula. Once in Spain they drive to the restaurants on their itinerary in Coogan’s Range Rover and commence their back and forth stream of banter, jibes, impersonations and historical facts.
And just as holidays or restaurant meals have high and low points, TTTS simultaneously succeeds and fails as it ducks and weaves its way through the countryside, the travel footage a key part of the appeal of the concept. Since the first outing in 2010, drone shots have become part and parcel for TV production and TTTS uses it’s fair share of aerial cinematography to give us a birds eye view of the countryside the fellas are driving through. And for the most part it is visually breathtaking as they meander through olive groves, across mountains ranges to ancient cities and to destinations most of can only dream of visiting.
It is a necessary particular of the production, because without these landscapes, we are faced with two men in a car or two men at a table telling tales and trying to make each other, and the audience laugh.
The food is presumably also a key ingredient of the premise, or at least it should be, but the cooking definitely takes a backseat to the verbal shenanigans the pair serve up relentlessly.
When they are on, it works a treat. Their love of the history of cinema and the delight with which they endlessly mimic and lampoon their favourite actors provide many of the highlights of the film.
And the pair also enjoy constructing fictions to incorporate into the narrative as they travel, and it can be hard to pick the fact from the make believe.
Ultimately, The Trip to Spain suffers from trying to fit too much into a feature film and it literally and figuratively runs out of gas about 2/3 of the way through, before the just desserts can be enjoyed.
It is a shame, because there is a lot to enjoy about the two men riffing off one another, but it can also grow tiring as they try to outdo each other.
I’d be interested to see some episodes of the TV show to see if the food takes a more prominent position, and if they are able to deliver a healthy quota of entertainment without overstaying their welcome.
For a more detailed breakdown of the film, check out this spot on review from Variety.
After this journey, I’m not sure I’ll come back for fourths.
A little undercooked, but edible – just. 3 Stars.
It is the kind of film you’d settle in to watch on a long flight, rather than seek out on the big screen.