A-HA!!! The Trip might end up being the funniest and saddest film of the year that will capture audiences if they are fond of impersonations, pop-culture references, food & drink, nature and buddy-movies that display scenic routes. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play semi-real versions of themselves in this great hang out movie, who go on a road trip throughout northern England, wining and dining in countryside restaurants and taking rest in cosy bed and breakfast hotels...but there is more to it than that.
They are similar to Neil Page and Dell Griffith in John Hughes' Planes, Train and Automobiles. Brydon is upbeat and irritating with his relentless and sometimes spot on impressions, while Coogan is more reserved and dry-witted. Coogan, who is best known for possibly the greatest British comedic character ever (Alan Partridge) is having a mid-life crisis. He has had considerable success, but is desperate to break into the American mainstream. Brydon, in a way Coogan's protege, is content with his career as an impersonator and really does get pleasure out of doing them. There is also another major difference between the two. Coogan is having relationship difficulties with his American girlfriend and is evidently distant from his son, whereas Brydon is actually happily married with an infant son. Brydon and his wife call each other every night to check up on each other and humorously attempt phone sex.
Although Coogan can seduce women easily, which he does twice on the trip, it doesn't make him happy and he is clearly lonely and unhappy. He is torn between attempting to make it in American film, his relationship with his girlfriend and fathering his son. Brydon and Coogan tolerate each other through humor, but there is evident tension between them at some stages, although we are not bogged down with it because this is a genuinely very funny film. The dialogue is fresh and they bounce insults off each other with great comedic timing. There is also two extremely funny sequences that involve an average Joe, a newspaper and the word "cunt", and a huge Hollywood A-lister and Coogan's dreams. Coogan wants to be taken seriously as an actor and try dramatic roles, if this corresponds to his actual life ambitions then he has succeeded because Brydon might actually steal the comical performance, Coogan in reality has proven that he can truly play a serious role and evoke a performance that is moving.
Among the humor and seriousness of the film, director Michael Winterbottom gets many excellent scenic shots that portray the landscape of the northern English countryside beautifully, enhancing mountains, rivers, lakes etc... And he doesn't have to do it ambiguously like Malik did with The Tree of Life, but subtly so the audience could appreciate it and then move on with the character on their journey, laughing all the way.