When you combine a lonely, washed-up English actor, an uninhibited Welsh man, six restaurants and the north of England, you get The Trip. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play themselves in this comedy directed by Michael Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, 24 Hour Party People).
Abandoned by his girlfriend Mischa at the last minute, Steve is forced to ask his friend Rob to accompany him on a restaurant tour of the North of England. Rob, happily married with a newborn, is reluctant at first, but comes along, irritating Steve with his constant celebrity impersonations (ranging from Michael Caine to James Bond) and more relaxed approach to life.
The theme of male mid-life crisis is prevalent throughout The Trip. Steve, increasingly unsure of himself, appears to have no close friends aside from Rob, as well as a strained, barely-existent relationship with his teenage son. Rob, though more fulfilled in his family life and seemingly more content in his middle-age, can not seem to help himself when it comes to performing, and is more comfortable playing other characters rather than being himself.
Throughout their constant attempts to outdo one another Steve and Rob’s chemistry is indisputable. The golden moments of the film are when their combined talents culminate in lengthy arguments and improvisation. References are made to literary figures hailing from the north of England, as well as some of Coogan and Brydon’s work, which could go over the head of those unfamiliar with it. For fans of subtle, very “British” humour, The Trip is makes an enjoyable, funny, and occasionally heart-breaking viewing experience.