Friday, December 16, 2011

The Trip DVD Review

When a newspaper offers Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People, Tropic Thunder, and Around the World in 80 Days) the chance to review a series of fine restaurants in the English countryside, he thinks it will make for a lovely getaway with his girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley, the daring star of Winterbottom’s 9 Songs).  When Mischa backs out, Rob Brydon (TV’s Little Britain, Oliver Twist) – Coogan’s best friend and source of eternal aggravation – fills in as a less-than-ideal travel companion. In semi-fictional performances using largely improvised dialogue from these two real-life friends (the co-stars of Winterbottom’s similar reality/fiction mash-up Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story), Coogan and Brydon can’t help but try to outdo each other as they endure long car rides between meal after meal.

Film (4 out of 5 stars) 

When Steve Coogan is asked by The Observer to go on a restaurant tour of Northern England, he accepts the offer in a bid to impress his gourmand girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley).   Coogan knows nothing about gourmet food so when Mischa backs out on him because she wants to take a break from their relationship, he knows he’s in trouble. Turning to his best friend (or the closest approximation of one for him), he asks Rob Brydon to join him on the trip. Rob and him have a complicated relationship where they both seem to share the same interests but drive each other crazy.
This trip gives the two a chance to catch up on their personal and professional competitiveness with each other as they spend the entire trip trying to outdo the other’s impressions and one up each other in front of any attractive women.  Their dueling impressions make up the most fun of the movie as they both have their own takes on Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Woody Allen, Anthony Hopkins, and Al Pacino among others.  Their Michael Caine battle is hilarious and dead on as both offer excellent impressions of the legendary actor and it’s tough to pick a winner between them.  They also take on songs as well, especially ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” being their favorite to sing.
Steve and Rob are interesting figures since they approach life and their profession differently.  While Steve is unhappy that he isn’t as big as star as he wants to be, Rob is content with his success and life with his family.  Steve spends quite a bit of time on the trip trying to convince Mischa to return or pushing his agents to get him bigger and better roles.  Steve is in a rut and despite several one night stands during the trip, he isn’t happy and seems to be at a dead end in life.  That point is even made more apparent when Steve tries to cross a path of stones in a river but is stuck halfway across only to hear Rob yell out ”You’re stuck in a metaphor!”
The Trip offers some great scenes of improvisational fun between the two real life friends as their constant bickering and competitive impressions are a lot of fun to watch.  The best parts are when the two start riffing on each other’s ideas which just gets bigger and bigger as they keep trying to top each other.  This film also offers a candid look into the life of comedians and the nature of fame and how it affects both them and their relationships with others.  While I didn’t care much about the food part of the movie (we see many dishes being prepared), their interaction was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing the next one that they are planning to make in Italy.

Video (4 out of 5 stars) 

This 1.85:1 wide-screen transfer’s picture quality is very good for a DVD.  There’s some nice detail offered and colors pop when available as this movie has a somewhat muted look.  The scenery looks very picturesque and has been captured well by cinematographer Ben Smithard.  Black levels are acceptable and flesh tones look natural and consistent throughout the movie.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

The Trip’s Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also pretty good and the mix is more active than you would think it would be for this kind of comedy film.  This is primarily a front heavy mix with very clear and clean dialogue, but the rear speakers also get some action with a lot of ambiance  and effects.  Whenever Steve and Rob are in a restaurant, the sound of the surrounding ambiance all around you makes you feel as if you are there with them and adds a lot of immersion to the film.

Special Features (4 out of 5 stars) 

While I would have loved to have a commentary track with Coogan and Brydon, there are a bunch of good extras including almost two hours of deleted scenes!
  • Photo gallery
  • The Making of The Trip – A behind the scenes look at the filming of several scenes.
  • Rob’s Pics and Climbing Footage- A look behind the scenes of Rob’s pictures and some climbing footage that wasn’t really interesting.
  • Food Cut - A look at 13 minutes of footage of the various meals being prepared for Steve and Rob.  Unless you are into food, I recommend skipping this.
  • Deleted Scenes – Since this was originally a television series, there is a lot of footage that was excised for this theatrical cut.  So much was removed, that there’s an  1 hour and 42 minutes of deleted scenes!  There’s more talk about Coleridge, jealousy over Michael Sheen and his roles, BBC ads, and even more impressions.  These are pretty funny and it’s cool that these scenes were included.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars) 

This movie is original and a lot of fun to watch and I dare you not to laugh at their dueling Michael Caine impressions (which you can watch below).  The DVD offers some excellent video and audio quality and a ton of fun deleted scenes so if you haven’t seen this yet, you should check it out!
Order your copy today!

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