The Trip is one of those rare occasions in which the film's poster completely counters what the film ends up being. In the image on the advertisements, we are provided with an image of Steve Coogan looking distressed as Rob Brydon laughs unabashedly. With this picture it is easy to assume that the film is to be an uproarious comedy that will deliver constant laughs and little in the way of profound character study. The Trip, however, is not a normal comedy, but a very sobering look at one mans attempt to deal with his fading into obscurity and increasingly distancing behavior to the world around him. At first this discovery bothered me given that I wanted to laugh and enjoy myself, yet despite its incredibly dark undertones the movie was quite hilarious and incredibly profound. It is an excellent independent film, which has just enough of a spark to flow for two hours and while the film relies heavily on the same set of jokes it manages to remain consistently funny and endearingly honest. It is traditional in its film style and linear narrative, but beyond that it is something quite unique and watchable. The Trip is a reminder that English film is still alive and while their comedy is certainly not the popular American style it is hilarious in its own right.
The Trip follows Steve Coogan, playing a slightly more pretentious version of himself, as he agrees to take up a job as a food critic for a national newspaper with the hopes of re-winning the heart of his American girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley). It is apparent, however, that Steve also desires to advance himself out of a failed attempt to rehash his fading comedy career. Mischa, distancing herself from Steve, decides not to partake in the trip with him leading him to invite his old friend Rob Brydon, played by himself in a much more ignorant manner. The two then take it upon themselves to travel across London eating at various restaurants and attempting to rekindle their clearly broken relationship. Instead of simply discussing their lives and activities the two attempt to outdo each others' comedic form, leaning heavily on impersonations, particularly that of Michael Caine. Their argument over who provides a better impersonation of the aging actor becomes a center for the two's attempts to outshine each other in regards to their careers. Rob is clearly more successful than Steve, given his popularity on a popular British sketch comedy show, while Steve is known for his work in independent films. Furthermore, Rob has become a family man, content with having a wife and child, while Steve continues to sleep with different women every night and fails to earn legitimate work at any point during film. The two continue to travel together, despite a clearly growing resentment on the part of Steve, who finds Rob's continual use of impressions and puns irritating. After confrontations and Rob's eventual realization that he is a point of envy for Steve, the two resolve their issues and depart humbly, but without great fondness for one another. Rob returns to his happy family life and clearly finds it rewarding, while Steve is shown alone in his apartment drinking and slouching in despair. The two have changed in no form from their trip, except for having eaten foie gras crackers.
The Trip is a film about studying the values of human desires, particularly finding a happy medium between qualitative and quantitative desires. Steve desperately wants his life to take a financial boost, particularly his global career as a comedian. He desires this far more than he does ensuring a relationship with his girlfriend, or anybody else around him for that matter. Throughout the film, Steve struggles with constant nightmares about people hating him or encountering far more successful actors and awaking to realize that these fears and desires are actually not occurring. Even after ridiculing Rob for one of his characters on his sketch show, Steve is shown fighting off tears in a hotel mirror as he fails to recreate the popular character. It is clear that he is at one point willing to sell out in order to gain global recognition. This occurs when he is offered a spot as a villain on a television series in the United States. On the other hand, Rob simply desires to please the people around him, mostly by making them laugh at groan-worthy jokes. He is clearly elated with his wife and child and the money he makes seems secondary. Rob's desires for quality allow him to gain quantifiable rewards, at one point he admits that he was surprised by his success, particularly given that it is rooted in a rather idiotic character. Steve by the end of the film realizes that Rob's success is not to be envied given that he earned it earnestly and without corruption. Steve appears as though he will change his life and approach things from Rob's perspective, however, the film closes before he can do so and as such we as viewers are uncertain that Steve will indeed change.
The Trip is a solid piece of film that is incredibly viewable. However, it is not worth owning so a rental will do just fine.