British comedy barely cracks stiff upper lips

. May 24, 2012.

“Shades of My Dinner with Andre”! In a season of movies offering alien invasions, comic book heroes and ghoulish special effects, the new British movie “The Trip,” offers conversation, beautiful views of the British countryside and gourmet food close-ups.

“The Trip” tells the story of two British actors who end up taking a road trip through the north of England, with one of them writing about his experience for the UK Observer newspaper.

They end up traveling together after one man’s girlfriend takes off to the U.S. for a break, leaving him on his own, perhaps for good. He doesn’t stay lonely for long,
however, since he seems to feel monogamy is solely a feminine virtue.

His traveling companion is happily married with a baby waiting for him at home.

Comedian/actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play hinted at fictionalized versions of themselves, with their characters also named “Steve” and “Rob.”

The pair travels to gorgeous country locales filmed with a loving eye by director Michael Winterbottom.
In fact, words fail in even trying to describe the undisturbed beauty of the lakes, moors, hills and landscape surrounding the inns, restaurants and museums the
pair visits.

The luscious food they eat is also lovingly photographed.

In fact, most of the pleasure of this film is from the background beauty.

There isn’t much in the way of action. Conversation between the two friends is the third star.

The dialogue itself seems mainly improvised, silly and studded with unending impressions of actors Michael Caine, Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino and Sean Connery. The pair continually tries to out-impersonate each other. Much of their talk is turned into a contest, with each man desperate to outdo the other.

For maximum enjoyment of this film, it wouldn’t hurt to be a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis, like Steve, who finds his career and his romance with his girlfriend both needing some mending.

The movie itself is edited down from a multi-part British television show recently shown on the small screen in the UK.

While amusing at times and pleasant to look at, this film never rises much above that level. The conversation between the pair is just not that funny. The impersonations and the competition merit a smile, but not much more. As the credits roll at the end of the movie, you may find yourself wondering, what was the point? Fans of Coogan and Brydon will be happy, but those not familiar with them may find themselves bored long before.

Recommended if you like to see beautiful scenery and fine food, if you share problems with somewhat dull middle-aged men, or enjoy slightly amusing British comedies.