In The Trip to Spain, comics Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan play caricatures of themselves assigned to a gourmet road trip, just as in The Trip and The Trip to Italy. Both masters of impressions and improvisation, the amiable Brydon and the snootily competitive (but needy) Coogan banter their way through delectable Spanish cuisine. One of the franchise’s running gags is Coogan’s constant name-dropping and one-upmanship, which begs Brydon to deflate him.
Brydon’s wonderful impressions of Sean Connery and Michael Caine are legendary, and Coogan is no slouch. They do impressions of Marlon Brando and Robert Deniro, and mimic across the British acting greats John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Holdern. Brydon even “does” Mick Jagger doing Michael Caine and Jagger playing Shakespeare’s Shylock.
In one of the funniest bits, a lunchtime reference to the “Moors in Spain” sparks a Rob Brydon marathon of ROGER Moore riffs; as Coogan and their companions try in vain to change the subject, Brydon is hilariously unstoppable.
There are plenty of other laughs, too, as Coogan tries to pronounces the French name “Aurore” and Brydon quips that the Spanish Inquisition was launched by a “Catalytic Converter”. They even refuse to pass up the obvious joke about Herb Alpert’s Spanish Flea.
As in the other Trip movies, the travel and food porn is exquisite. They cross Spain from the Basque country, through the dinosaur sites of Rioja, the Don Quixote heritage of La Mancha, the streets of Cuenca and the marvels of Granada, ending in Malaga. I didn’t notice any green vegetables until their fifth day of eating (always fine by me). (However, Spain’s ubiquitous jamón doesn’t show up until their final day.)
Frankly, Brydon’s and Coogan’s improvisations are reason enough to make (and see) one of these movies. Unfortunately, someone felt the need to focus the final 15 minutes of The Trip to Spain on the contrast between Brydon’s happly family life and Coogan’s disconnected loneliness and his career and personal insecurities. Blaaaaaaaaaah. Snooooooze.
So it’s simple: go see The Trip to Spain and, when the characters say goodbye to each other in Malaga – leave the theater.