Steve Coogan has been asked by The Observer to tour the country's finest restaurants, but after his girlfriend backs out on him he must take his best friend and source of eternal aggravation, Rob Brydon.
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Due to the success of the first two trips to Northern England and Italy, the Guardian, this time in conjunction with 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. Like the other two trips, Steve and Rob are accompanied by a plethora of celebrities, from Mick Jagger to Michael Caine to Hugh Grant to a pair of Bonds in the form of their impersonations, but unlike those other two trips, both seem centered and grounded in all aspects of their lives. Rob is settled in his life as loving husband to Sally ...Written by
Steve says while at lunch that a version of 12 Years a Slave was made by HBO "about ten years ago". No such version exists but PBS did make a version in 1984 entitled Solomon Northup's Odyssey. See more »
"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love." Ernest Hemingway
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have done this drill before from reviewing restaurants in the UK, Italy, and now Spain in The Trip to Spain. As always the two for the road, buddy adventure is more entertaining than the meals, though the meals play even less of a role in this iteration.
The two incomparable improvisers, guided for the third time by director Michael Winterbottom, travel by Range Rover to some of Spain's finest restaurants, with mouth-watering tapas casually served while they serve you personal barbs and impersonations so spot on you could close your eyes and swear the original was having dinner.
Especially notable are their riffs on James Bond, emphasizing the eccentric voices of Sean Connery and Roger Moore. The sequence involving Moore's Bond and an enemy having dinner together is especially amusing. In any case, both actors are world class imitators culminating in a memorable take on "Tony Hopkins."
The road trip has numerous high angle, helicopter and drone shots capturing the rolling Spanish countryside, mountain top restaurants, and Western-like landscapes enjoyable enough but downright fulfilling when accompanied by the wickedly funny banter between the old buddies. They both are not shy about picking on the conceits and foibles of their friend, and both give as well as they can take.
For some dramatic heft, Coogan is vulnerable at reaching 50 without a girlfriend or agent, and so distanced from his son as to be painful,. Even writing about his teenage years in Spain can't shake the melancholy. Enter the shot of the two buddies dressed as Quixote and Panza, no better choice to represent Coogan's drifting and Brydon's middle-aged responsibilities.
All this is to say that the lives of these two gifted actors and improvisers are not as superficial as the grand food and sights would lead us to believe. And after all, we need to be prepared for the hilarious and provocative last shot.
What is it? you ask. Take the trip and find out. It will be one of the best tours of your cinematic life, and you'll run to Netflix to see the other two. I guarantee it.
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." Ralph Waldo Emerson
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