Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Michael Caine? Not really. Caine comes out of the two stars of Michael Winterbottom's very funny new movie THE TRIP. (A director not known for humor, Winterbottom has made, out of more than 20 films in 20 years, only two that you could call comedies.) His stars in this film, however, are Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, and both do such fab impressions of this great British actor that you'd swear he was there. (Caine, who loves movies, will certainly see this one, and I would expect that he'll be laughing right along with the rest of the audience.)
Mr. Winterbottom (shown at right) is taking, I should think, some sort of vacation with his new movie, which is itself a kind of vacation in which two buddies (I use that last word loosely) tour the Brit hinterlands reviewing restaurants and one-upping each other regarding their superlative impressions of various movie people. Competition and the male ego have rarely been shown to such disadvantage (for the owners) and such amusement (for the audience). These two "mates" are also, more often than not, unemployed actors -- with (as in real life, one suspects) Coogan the more oft-employed and Brydon, the not-quite-there-yet.
Does anyone preen as nastily -- at the same time pretending not to -- as Coogan (above, right)? Doubtful. This guy excels at playing pigs of major proportions. And Brydon, above, left, as the lap dog trying desperately to be the Great Dane, proves the perfect foil.
While the film makes great fun of haute cuisine, foodies and cell-phone unavail-ability (left), it is mostly an insider's movie. From its Ben Stiller fantasy to Coogan's agent to those near- constant impressions (there are some very good ones of Woody Allen), the movie's so chock-a-block with sophistica-ted and/or work-related references that non-film-buffs had best stay away, for they'll probably sit in stony silence wondering what all the laughter is about.
We also get some crackerjack scenery, The Winner Takes It All, and more impressions. At 107 minutes, the movie's too long. It could easily lose 15 of these, but I suspect everyone was having too good a time to yell "cut!" What about later, in the editing room? My theory is that perhaps there was still so much laughter that, well, they kept in damn near everything.
Still, you really do get the sense that these two guys enjoy each other's company immensely. And we enjoy theirs. Just maybe not quite so much of them. The Trip, from IFC Films, opens this Friday. June 10, in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the IFC Center. It'll play elsewhere, I am sure, and then on June 22, as happens with so many IFC movies, you can get it via VOD.