THE TRIP (Dir. Michael Winterbottom, 2010)
The best parts of this eccentric comedy featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, as fictionalized versions of themselves is when the pair try outperform each other's impressions of British celebrities, especially of Michael Caine.
There's some other stuff happening too, as they travel the North English countryside from one Bed and Breakfast Inn to another on a restaurant tour Coogan is writing about for The Observer. Coogan is on an unhappy break from his girlfriend (Margo Stilley), who was originally supposed to go on the trip, and Brydon, who is going in her place, has a new wife and child that he's leaving behind for this week-long excursion.
There's angst about aging, career paths, and flawed friendships, much of it poignant (though maybe a bit slight), but it's the hilarious dueling imitations that make the movie.
Coogan, who is a bigger star internationally than Brydon, carries a considerable amount of mental baggage around as he suffers the fool he thinks his aggravating partner in whining and dining is.
Brydon has a glibber, more laid-back demeanor than Coogan's crank, but he's obviously blanketing a bunch of insecurities under his charming ability to do an impeccable Hugh Grant impression, among many others.
THE TRIP was edited together from 6 episodes of a BBC program which explains its over-long length (107 min.) and it's disjointedness, yet it contains enough laughs and genuine emotion to carry you through.
Having previously worked together in a lot of projects (24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, TRISTRAM SHANDY, lots of British television), Coogan and Brydon have a great naturalistic energy in their largely ad-libbed exchanges.
Aesthetically, the scenery is pretty, but very grey toned (it is England, of course), and there are a nice amount of delicious looking shots of fine food.
But, as I said before, it's those funny as Hell impression-offs that make me rate this movie so highly. For the record, although it's really close, I think Coogan does the better Michael Caine.