The Trip: Four Course Meal review by Bobby Blakey
Back in 2010 actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reteamed with A Cock and Bull Story for the series The Trip on the BBC. The series was later edited together and released as a feature film. The same was done for the follow-up series in 2014, 2017 and 2020. Now the entire run of the films have been brought together into one collection aptly titled The Trip: Four Course Meal. Could these two comedy genius bring laughs and flavor to these films or will it fail to serve up the fun?
The series follows actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon who embark on multiple road trips through Europe including the UK, Italy, Spain, and Greece, sampling the restaurants, eateries, and sights along the way. As the brilliant comic duo, freestyling with flair, drive each other mad with constant competition and showdowns of competing impressions of famous celebrities, Coogan and Brydon create a brilliantly comic rumination on the nuances of friendship and the juggling of family and career.
The Trip follows Steve Coogan who is asked to review restaurants for the UK's Observer and is joined on a working road trip by his friend Rob Brydon who fills in at the last minute when Coogan's romantic relationship falls apart. This entire series/film is an interesting direction to how it’s formatted. They play fictionalized versions of themselves set in a tone that is a standard film story, but also a bit of a documentary style element in regards to the dining. If you
didn’t know any better you would think it’s a food series and nothing else which speaks to the quality of execution. Throughout most of the film is spent with these two guys either eating, driving or walking around site seeing and throwing witty banter throughout.
The second entry, The Trip to Italy in 2014 picked up years after their successful restaurant review tour of Northern Britain, where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are commissioned for a new tour in Italy. Once again, the two comedy buddies/rivals take the landscape as well as the cuisine of that country in a trip filled with witty repartee and personal insecurities. Along the way, their own professional and personal lives comes in as these slightly older men's friendship comes through. The second time around it felt like not only a great new trip but a refreshing return to that fun comedic timing and relationship these guys share on screen. Through it all they continue with the great meals and banter that makes it continue to work throughout the series.
For the third serving, The Trip to Spain in 2017, the New York Times, asks Steve Coogan to write restaurant reviews from another week long trip, this time through Spain. Rob Brydon, Steve's companion on the other two trips, is already aware of the trip, and agrees to go in favoring it over the alternative. Beyond Steve's planned itinerary which will take them south through the center of the country to mirror a trip he did when he was eighteen, they will necessarily embark on some Don Quixote/ Sancho Panza escapades due in part to the current Terry Gilliam movie project on the pair. As the new trip takes shape it brings more of the same formula and fun, but a twists that gives moments as though they might be wearing thin of each other. Not in a way that causes issues, but in a more realistic way where friends just get annoyed while still having a blast together.
In the final course of this series feast, The Trip to Greece in 2020 Steve and Rob have only six days on their own personal odyssey. On the way they argue about tragedy and comedy, astronomy and biology, myth, history, democracy and the meaning of life! I honestly would have thought this idea would have worn out its welcome by now, but thankfully the pure talent and genius of these two continues to shine through. Like each of the previous entries they bring an array of great impersonations, food and beautiful landscapes that are characters of their own in the series.
This is a perfect collection of films that showcase simplicity and beauty of life and friendship that is not only entertaining, but relatable. I am so glad they have brought these films together in one set as they really should be watched back to back.
Grab your copy of The Trip: Four Course Meal available now from IFC Films.