The Trip To Spain **1/2

The third time isn’t exactly the charm, but it’s also not the worst trip you’ll ever take.  

Is it worth $10? Yes 

The problem with a bad ending is that it becomes the only thing people remember. No matter how good a movie is leading up to the conclusion, it can all be undone/undermined by what happens in those precious final minutes. This is relevant in terms of “The Trip To Spain” because, for the most part, it’s a witty travelogue following two British comedians as they try to make one another laugh while waxing philosophical about life and love. They’re smart and the humor is sometimes dry, but we like them.

And then the ending happens and you’re thinking “what the?” as the credits roll.

The comedians are Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, and this is the third time they’ve travelled together on screen: The first was “The Trip” through England in 2011, then “The Trip To Italy” in 2014. Now they’re hitting Spain, once again playing versions of themselves and this time channeling “Don Quixote,” the Spanish Civil War, the Inquisition, etc. They even find a dinosaur monument to visit, which leads to some barbed one-liners and the best John Hurt impression you’ll ever hear.

Speaking of impressions, there are plenty of them. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether Coogan or Brydon does the better Mick Jagger, Marlon Brando, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, David Bowie, Woody Allen and/or Michael Caine (among others), but this much is for sure: It’ll make you smile to watch them easily morph into these celebrities, not to mention wish you could do the impressions nearly as well.

Impressions aside, the real appeal of the film is the chemistry and conversation between Coogan and Brydon. Now three movies in, director Michael Winterbottom once again uses the same formula of driving through the country, stopping at off-the-beaten-path fine dining establishments, and staying at posh hotels while visiting notable landmarks. Each stop is part of a roughly 60-page outline that provides the “shell” of the movie, which is as close to a shooting script as this project gets. Coogan and Brydon are given a loose plot to follow and conversation suggestions for each meal, but they’re largely on their own to improvise the dialog, which usually meets with success.

It’s when the conversation isn’t as successful, however, that “The Trip To Spain” struggles. At times it’s a bit too chatty for its own good, with some segments slightly overstaying their welcome and making the movie about 15 minutes too long (it’s 108 minutes). The real offense in this regard, however, is the 10-minute epilogue that shifts drastically in tone and clearly should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. It doesn’t work at all, and leaves the film on a sour note rather than a witty one. Not sure what the filmmakers were thinking, but it’s a mistake.

Still, it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters, and in this case the journey is fun, funny and clever enough to make “The Trip To Spain” a trip worth taking.

Did you know?
Winterbottom and producer Melissa Parmenter explored Spain on their own, eating at all the restaurants, etc., in order to determine the route Coogan and Brydon would take in the film.

Cron Job Starts