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The Trip to Spain [2017]

The Trip to Spain [2017] is the third installment of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s luxurious jaunts throughout the countryside of Europe, this time in - as the title suggests, duh - Spain. If you can overlook the self-indulgent and, after two previous films of the same ilk, tired premise of banter and middle-aged existentialist crises, you may find this film hilarious.

Same old story. It’s a formula that has worked for them in both film and television format previously; Coogan is a charmer (though it becomes painfully clear that this is wearing thin), a guy who thinks he’s a bit of a writer. He’s accompanied by his loveable and uncomplicated sidekick Brydon - who, for all his happy bumbling through family life, seems to be on track to overshadow Steve’s career. The two head on a seemingly simple trip through five provinces of Spain, sampling food and swapping witty ego-bursting barbs as they go.

It’s fun, and the film takes full advantage of the loose plot to allow these two comedians free reign on ridiculous repartee, from competing impressions of Mick Jagger and Marlon Brando to musings of middle-age and fatherhood. This allows for some truly hilarious moments over lunch as the two compete for the prize of funny-man. The trouble is, as the film revels in this minimal storyline, it kind of pushes the indulgence of the whole thing in your face – two middle-aged men with the time and means to make a film about nothing can be frustrating, particularly when we look at the current lack of diversity in mainstream film.

Citing classics in your film ain’t gonna make it one. There are some clever moments; the film ties in two writers throughout the film that serve as subtle running themes. Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is Coogan’s inspiration for his writing, but only really serves to accentuate his middle-aged existentialist crises. Cervantes is used to drawing a historical journey throughout Spain, but we are also prompted to see Steve and Rob as the characters in Don Quixote – a deluded man chasing dreams, and his dependable sidekick. This gets a little overdone by the end - Coogan is half walking lonely planet, half school teacher in a tired joke that only pushes the annoying fact that white male privilege is as boring as it is ignorant of itself - but there are times where this partnership manipulated for some excellent jokes. There is a brilliant scene in which Steve is actually mansplaining Spanish history to some intelligent and obviously frustrated women – one of which seems to be Spanish. Rob’s bumbling humor sneakily manages to undercut Steve entirely and we see here the competitive dynamic between the two comes close to outright dislike. Still, both these literary motifs seem only half actualized, similarly with the various subplots that crop up; Steve’s complicated affair, his son, Rob’s career renaissance - they are skimmed over to give the impression that we are watching the trailer with all the funny bits and plot teasers rather than the film itself.

 

The film ends somewhat vaguely, which leaves us wondering if there will be another sequel or if this fizzled ending signals the end of the series. From this last effort, it seems like the collaboration between Coogan, Brydon and Director Michael Winterbottom could definitely be put to bed, but who knows? If audiences are still completely fine with indulging somewhat successful, white, middle-aged men in their many crises, then go for it.
The David Bowie impression was pretty excellent though.

Watch The Trip to Spain on iTunes

The Trip to Spain [2017]
2.5Overall Score
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