In The Trip to Spain a couple of long time friends, British actors/writers Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, embark on a week-long culinary and cultural voyage across Spain. Coogan is there to do some publicity as well as begin writing a novel, while Brydon aims to soak up the scenic countryside and write a number of articles about the various Spanish eateries they visit.
Some viewers, such as myself, may be unaware that The Trip To Spain is actually the third in a cinematic series that began with 2010’s The Trip and continued in 2014 with the sequel The Trip To Italy. All three films were directed by Michael Winterbottom, and they deal with the ups and downs of the professional as well as the private lives of this comedic pair. Hopefully, given the rather puzzling conclusion of The Trip to Spain, this particular voyage won’t stop here and yet another sequel is in the works.
As The Trip to Spain begins, the two showbiz friends agree to go on a week-long tour of Spain. Immediately, director Winterbottom establishes the differences between the men’s personal lives with Coogan depicted as a kind of lone wolf, alone and focused on his career, while Brydon is introduced while struggling to hear the phone over the cries of his young son. Before long the buddies are off on a ferry ride from England to Spain before disembarking and taking to the road in Coogan’s Range Rover for the rest of the trip.
At first glance, The Trip To Spain could been seen as a kind of humorous version of the 1981 film My Dinner With Andre. Coogan and Brydon spend most of their exchanges chuckling about serious issues such as the pros and cons of being middle aged, the state of their personal relationships, kids, and the realities of aging (ie. both men jog and one has given up drinking). A great deal of the film takes place in various restaurants where the two friends enjoy themselves with some back and forth banter. Their dialogue is humorous with one or two personal insights thrown in for good measure. Indeed, the best parts of the film are the comedic impressions both actors are able to give full range to during their mealtime discussions. A sampling of the characters they impersonate includes rock stars Mick Jagger and the late David Bowie as well as James Bond actors Sean Connery and Roger Moore. They also summon up a wide array of other actors such as Marlon Brando, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Caine, Woody Allen, and John Hurt. Some of the funniest scenes involve the pair’s references to the well known Monty Python bit- “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
The Trip to Spain isn’t going to appeal to viewers looking for an action-packed flick hyped with sex and violence. Compared to most summer movies, not much happens in this film. Basically, it’s an enjoyable romp through Spain where the humorous actors meander along, all the while soaking up the gorgeous scenery, experiencing the delicacies of its native cuisine, sharing a few laughs, and musing about their relationships and careers. Along the way, viewers are treated to sights of a variety of impressive hotels, picturesque castles, one-of-a-kind landmarks, and historic churches.
Like a real life trip, The Trip to Spain isn’t for all tastes. Those with a love of British humour and keen impressions will no doubt find the film refreshingly funny and even charming. For other viewers looking for edgier material or more traditional comedic schtick, the movie will no doubt be an arduous journey.
The Trip to Spain is now playing in theatres.