The Trip is a 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.
A sequel, The Trip to Italy, was released in 2014. It follows Coogan and Brydon on a trip to Italy when the pair are asked by The Observer to produce a follow-up series of articles. Notable for the new Italian scenery and for Coogan and Brydon subtly exchanging roles.
A third installment, The Trip to Spain, was released in 2017, while the fourth, The Trip to Greece, began airing on Sky One in March 2020. Despite some earlier talk of The Trip to Ireland, Coogan has indicated that the fourth installment is the last.
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.
- The Trip to Italy ends with Steve reconnecting with his son at the latter's relatively mature age, while Rob is practically bragging about how he cheated on his wife while on holiday.
- The Trip to Spain The two girls go home, then Rob goes back to his family, leaving Steve pottering around on his lonesome in the Range Rover, clearly suffering from writer's block and loneliness despite his pretensions to become the next Hemingway. Finally he persuades his old flame (whom he has discovered is pregnant with someone else's child) from the first Trip to meet him in Spain... only it's All Just a Dream. He's actually asleep in the car on a dirt road as some suspicious looking "freedom fighter" posse in a pickup truck bear down on him.
- The Trip to Greece: The trip is cut short by the death of Steve's elderly father. While Rob continues the trip with his wife Sally, Steve returns to England to grieve with his family.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: Steve definitely comes across as a bit of a champagne socialist who pontificates on art, poetry and history while dining at fancy restaurants and driving in posh cars. Amusingly he gets very prickly when meeting the Hipster busker in Spain, (though not entirely without reason), who is basically just a younger more trendy version of him. Rob, by contrast, is much more of a luvvie.
- 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.
- Throughout the editing contrasts the free holiday the pair are getting with their much less serene working lives. When they aren't living it up in top restaurants they are often on the phone to their agents, or fretting that their careers aren't as successful as they hoped and where the next job is coming from. Truth in Television of course, for most folks in showbusiness.
- Chaste Hero: In Greece Steve mocks Rob when he's slyly watching some women towelling themselves off and Rob is shocked to see that Steve is staring at their bent-over backsides. Steve expects that Rob thinks people are like Action Man downstairs.
- 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. This is could also be considered an Analogy Backfire.
- Also an unusual Ironic Echo as prior to this conversation, Steve frustratedly laments to his American manager he feels like the tortoise compared to a number of hares who are passing him, after assurances he'll get the career he wants eventually.
- Faster Than They Look: Steve talks a lot in Greece about how in shape he is for his age and tells a waitress how well he swims. When they do get down to an impromptu race in the sea, Rob beats him.
- 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.
- Inverted in The Trip to Italy. Steve is the one making efforts to reconnect with his family, while Rob is ambivalent about family life and cheats on his wife at the first opportunity.
- 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.
- 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'.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The first episode of The Trip to Italy opens with Rob inviting Steve on another trip because "people liked the first one", referring in-universe to the articles they wrote about the first trip. Later, they talk about how sequels are rarely as good as the original, with rare exceptions like The Godfather Part II.
- 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.
- Developed on as part of the Swapped Roles subtly invoked in the sequel series, as Steve seems much more content with his lot and is happy to bring up the success of the recent I, Partridge, autobiograpgy.
- 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.
- Scenery Porn: There are lot of shots of the Northern scenery. And it is gorgeous.
- The Trip To Italy takes the baton and runs with this, being set in Italy, with wonderful shots of sprawling beaches, rustic old towns and vineyards.
- 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..."). There's also a number of Michael Caine and Al Pacino impressions. Brydon is also asked to perform his 'man trapped in a box' routine from his live shows by a number of people.
- The sequel piece has further shout-outs to The Dark Knight Rises, with the two mocking the voices of the film's heroic and villainous leads.
- 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.
- Swapped Roles: In the sequel, The Trip To Italy, it appears that the two have exchanged places. Coogan is happy and content to bring up the success of his autobiography for Alan Partridge, as opposed to downplaying the importance of the character in his life, and is making an effort to make stronger ties with his kids. By contrast, Brydon is now the one keen to get away from his suburban life, and eventually beds a woman despite being married with children. Brydon is also the one to propose the trip, as it is revealed he essentially ghost-wrote the initial articles for the UK restaurants on Steve's behalf.
- Take That!: At one point in the first series, Steve gripes on the phone to his agent that he doesn't want to get cast in Doctor Who as an alien or something.
- 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.