Netflix & Chill #85: The Trip To Spain
Directed By: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan, Claire Keelan, Marta Barrio, Kyle Soller, Margo Stilley
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% Tomatometer, 64% Audience Score
Look, I'll be totally honest here: no idea why these movies work so well, but they do. It's a basic formula at this point: two middle aged white guys get in a car, travel around a location (Northern England for the first movie, Italy for the second and now Spain), riff with each other on various funny topics and impressions, take in scenery, drink wine, eat fabulous looking food.
That's pretty much it. If you really want to you can expand the formula a bit: both men seem to be envious of the other in slightly different ways. Rob has a stable family life, Steve doesn't. Steve has more professional accolades and success than Rob does. These movies also seem to have a melancholy undercurrent to them. Part of that makes sense: there's always that sort of bump that everyone experiences coming back from vacation or a trip where you have to get back into the regular groove of your life again. Sometimes it feels good to be home, but I can understand the melancholy of returning to the mundane.
I have to imagine that these movies are a joy to make though. Michael Winterbottom seems to know how this works very well: focus on the cinematography, get shots of wherever they are and then let Brydon and Coogan get their engines revved up and start bouncing off of one another. The food looks amazing, the restaurants glorious, the wine delectable- but really, it's the two of them that make these movies more than just travel documentaries.
The dynamic duo seemed to have a fondness for Michael Caine impressions in earlier movies, but the standout riffs here involve dueling Roger Moore impressions. (A stay in Grenada when they're talking about the Reconquista and the Moors in Spain is especially hilarious.) Marlon Brando as Torquemada makes an appearance. The Spanish Inquisition shows up as well.
Honestly, I can't think of much more to say about this movie. It is what it is. Do I think it's a sit down, get a glass of wine, some popcorn and give it your full attention kind of a movie? Not really. It's perfect for background noise though- you can sort of watch it and do other things if you need too. Turns out there's another one as well: The Trip To Greece, so I'll guess I'll have to dig that up and see what that one is like as well.
Overall: A beautiful looking travelogue of a movie, The Trip to Spain continues doing what these movies do best: trafficking in dry humor, hilarious impressions while contemplating life, career and mortality of both of the men at the center. There's really not much to these movies than that-- and while that might seem fairly simple, sometimes a simple concept with the right people executing it is all you need to make a great movie- and for the third time in a row, Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and Michael Winterbottom have done it again. My Grade: *** out of ****