Tribeca: “The Trip” – Michael Winterbottom’s comedy shows Britain’s culinary highlights (yes, they exist!)

This entry was posted on 22.04.2011

Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip" with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip" with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

Michael Winterbottom is easily one of the best – if not the best – directors in Britain in the last two decades. He won the Berlinale with “In This World” and should have won a Golden Bear for “Road to Guantanamo”. Winterbottom is a regular in Berlin as well as the Tribeca Film Festival, where he shows his new fake documentary/comedy “The Trip” – a journey through Britain’s culinary highlights. Yes: They actually exist.

In Britain, “The Trip” was shown as a six episode mini-series, outside of the UK Winterbottom opted for a 110 minute long summary of Steven Coogan’s and Rob Brydon’s travel.

It’s not clear how much of the “The Trip” is improvised, how much is written and what actually is real. The end titles don’t mention any actors, only “special thanks” to people involved. The main characters are played by actors, though.

So what is “The Trip” about? That is actually not easy to tell. Steve (“Night at the Museum”, “Tropic Thunder”) is hired by the British newspaper “The Observer” for a culinary trip. His American girlfriend bails on him though, so he asks Rob Brydon (“Little Britain”) to join him. Both by the way played the leads in Winterbottom’s “Tristam and Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story”.

Steve and Rob are extremely different which becomes more and more evident throughout the movie. Rob is a bit childish, but clearly happy with his life as a family-man and father, and with his career. Steve is not happy with his career, but he turns down every American offer he receives. He even has weird dreams about it (Ben Stiller appears in one of them). At the same time he ends up in bed with pretty much every woman who is available throughout the trip.

Both are competing against each other. Who is the better Michael Caine impersonator? Who could do James Bond better? Who has the better vocal range? Most of these battles are improvised and extremely funny.

Oh yeah, and there’s the food. Winterbottom shows how much of an art form cooking is. The menus have ridiculously weird names though. “Selfish broth cooked in its own juices” might have been one of them. The two guys don’t seem to appreciate this though: “Has the consistency of snot” is the most sophisticated review you will hear. And they seem to be happy when they finally get “real” British food. How happy were the restaurants with the show, you might wonder. The lake district tourism board will be much happier about “The Trip”. If you ever wondered about traveling to the country side of England, here are plenty of reasons.

Only one question is left now: When will some tv channel pick up the whole series and give us the chance to watch all six episodes?

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