Review: In ‘The Trip to Spain,’ Everything Tastes Stale

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Rob Brydon, left, and Steve Coogan in “The Trip to Spain,” the third entry in Michael Winterbottom’s franchise.

Credit
Rory Mulvey/IFC Films

One way to enjoy “The Trip to Spain,” the third entry in Michael Winterbottom’s gags-and-gastronomy franchise, would be to periodically mute the sound. That way, the therapeutic calm instilled by the glorious Iberian scenery (photographed by James Clarke in shimmering, almost edible pastels) could be savored uninterrupted by the performative patter of the two stars, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. I imagine that the diners seated near them in the restaurants where much of this movie takes place would have been grateful for mute buttons of their own.

Like “The Trip” in 2011 and “The Trip to Italy” three years later, this latest cushy assignment sends the lads — once again playing Steve and Rob, mildly fictionalized versions of themselves — tootling around a randomly chosen region, sampling menus and trading banter. I hesitate to say jokes, because, unlike the bounce and zing of the first movie, the tone here is more sober and the humor more strained. Barely squeaking by on a familiar formula and flimsy narrative (Steve is writing a book; Rob is scribbling restaurant reviews for The New York Times), the actors convey a sense of going through the motions. Eating sumptuous meals without apparent relish, jogging separately through impossibly gorgeous towns, and firing off celebrity impersonations with wearying one-upmanship, they perform with the competitive reflexivity of the longtime double act.

Video

Trailer: ‘The Trip to Spain’

A preview of the film.


By IFC FILMS on Publish Date August 10, 2017.


Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.

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Yet even artists as gifted as these two can only hitchhike so long on the charisma of household names like Mick Jagger and Michael Caine, and the dueling impressions that fuel the franchise have become effortful and repetitive. (One extended bit on Roger Moore is tortured to the point of desperation.)…

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