2010 British comedy-drama directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as... Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon
. Originally a six-part BBC television series, it was recut and released as a feature film in 2011.
A follow-on from A Cock and Bull Story
by the same creative team, it involves and uses a lot of the same Post Modern
meta elements; the plot involves Coogan getting a job writing restaurant reviews for the Observer
in an attempt to impress his epicure girlfriend Mischa (Margot Stilley), only for the plan to hit a snag when he and Mischa have an argument and split up. In desperation, he ends up convincing his old comedian colleague Brydon to come along instead, thus prompting a week of fine dining, beautiful scenery and the two men getting on each other's nerves.
Not to be confused with the 2002 gay romance film
of the same name.
Provides examples of:
- As Himself: Coogan and Brydon play heightened versions of themselves, or at least their personas as the public generally view them; Coogan as spiky and slightly pretentious with a troubled personal life, Brydon as amiable, likely to slip into an impression without warning, and a bit irritating.
- Bittersweet Ending: Brydon returns from the trip happy to be back with his family. Coogan returns from the trip to an empty apartment, unable to reconcile with his girlfriend.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: Sort of; a key theme is the nature of acting, celebrity and each man's different approach to it. Steve feels like he's being wasted and isn't as famous or as greatly respected as he should be, or is famous for the wrong things, while Rob is quite content with the fairly middlebrow level he's managed to achieve. Ironically, it's suggested and demonstrated at several points that Brydon may actually have eclipsed Coogan in this regard.
- Beautifully illustrated in a scene where Coogan and Brydon try to get into Wordsworth's cottage, only for the old lady at the entrance booth to point out that they've stopped selling tickets. Coogan tries to argue his way in, but the lady doesn't recognise him — she does, however, recognise Brydon, who genially charms her into letting them in while Coogan is left to seethe in the background.
- Classically Trained Extra: Although not exactly classically trained, Steve views himself something like this, resenting that he's not the A-list star he feels he should be. Rob, on the other hand, couldn't really give a toss.
- Comically Missing the Point: At one point, the two men discuss the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. Coogan derides Brydon as the Tortoise and announces that he would rather be the Hare, as they're speedy and quick always on the move. Brydon points out that the whole point of the story is that the Tortoise wins at the end.
- Foil: Rob to Steve. Where Steve is spiky and aloof, Rob is friendly and ingratiating. Where Steve is dissatisfied with his life and career, Rob is more-or-less content. Where Steve is divorced, broken up with his girlfriend and appears to have a rather distant and difficult relationship with his kids, Rob is Happily Married and clearly dotes on his daughter.
- Food Porn: Not only do we get to see the dishes Rob and Steve eat, we also get to see the chefs preparing each dish.
- Ho Yay: Steve seems quite defensive about being considered to have chemistry of this nature with Rob. Brydon is a bit more flippant and occasionally uses this to needle Steve.
- Hypocritical Humor: A mild, subtle example; Steve clearly considers himself a cut above Rob but is completely clueless about the culture of fine cuisine and wines he's gotten himself into, whereas Rob is often demonstrated to be a bit more knowledgeable about these sorts of things.
- When they're arguing about their James Bond impressions Steve accuses Rob of frequently going over the top with his performances. Annoyed, Rob points out that Steve himself doesn't exactly have a reputation as 'a master of understatement'.
- Literal Metaphor: when Steve gets stuck halfway across a series of stepping stones across a river, Rob is quick to point out that he's "stuck in a metaphor". Then Steve falls into the river.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Hinted to be the case with Steve; he's divorced, his girlfriend has dumped him, and while he does successfully seduce several women over the course of the series / movies these are merely a string of meaningless one-night stands that ultimately seem to bring him little satisfaction or happiness.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: Invoked — the spectre of Alan Partridge is a constant haunting presence for Coogan, who wants to move on to what he feels are bigger and better things despite the fact that it's the role everyone associates with him and, as Brydon frequently takes delight in pointing out, is probably going to be the main thing he's remembered for.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Brydon is depicted as prone to slipping into an impression at the drop of a hat. This irritates Coogan no end. However, since Coogan himself is no slouch when it comes to impressions (although he stoutly denies that he's an impressionist), the two often end up competing about who does the best one.
- Oop North: The series covers several real-life Northern English restaurants.
- Post Modern: As is common with Winterbottom's work as a whole (but especially a lot of his work with Coogan and, to a lesser extent, Brydon).
- "The Same Conversation" scene is a deconstruction of many of the dry comedic scenes between Coogan and Brydon, while also being another example of some of the things it's describing.
- Production Posse: Margo Stiley, who plays Steve Coogan's girlfriend, was also in Michael Winterbottom's 2004 film 9 Songs, and this is the third film of Winterbottom's (after 24 Hour Party People & Tristram Shandy) to feature both Coogan and Brydon.
- Reality Subtext: A lot. Including the relationship between the two men.
- Scenery Porn: There are lot of shots of the Northern scenery. And it is gorgeous.
- Shout-Out: Coogan and Brydon's competitiveness over their James Bond impressions lead them to spontaneously reenact a version of the dinner table confrontation between Bond and Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun ("Come come, Mr. Bond, you derive just as much pleasure from killing as I do...").
- Speech-Centric Work: An essentially plotless series of conversations between the two characters.
- Spiritual Successor: It's basically a British My Dinner With Andre with less conversations about experimental theatre and more impressions of Michael Caine and James Bond.
- The Cameo: In one of Steve's dreams, Ben Stiller plays Coogan's agent, who tells him that he the most wanted actor in Hollywood.