Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's latest rambling comedy tour, The Trip to Spain
, might come off in the previews as a stale, egotistical movie full of chatter and worn-out impressions—but like the previous films in the series, it offers the right mixture of melancholia and laughter by poking fun at the grandiose, sometimes destructive tendencies of the central characters. The franchise, directed by Michael Winterbottom, is based on a semi-improvised BBC2 TV program in which Coogan and Brydon (both British comedians, both great at impressions, one much cheerier than the other) go on gorgeous, literary-inspired food tours. Each of the three movies in the series is edited down from a six-episode television season. If you're truly interested in the details of regional cuisine, this series will be disappointing. But it works as a very funny take on the way comedians entertain themselves, an exploration of midlife crises, a meditation on history and meaning, a collection of strange but well-executed voices and impressions, and a decidedly un-sappy celebration of friendship. It's smart but light. If The Trip
's high-strung chatter grated on you, give Coogan and Brydon another shot with The Trip to Spain
—their formula is changing, and for the better.
by Julia Raban