The Trip to Spain is the third in a film trilogy by Michael Winterbottom, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing a version of themselves.
The third course of Michael Winterbottom’s gastro-adventure is here. The Trip to Spain, following the success of The Trip and The Trip to Italy, takes the characterized comedy actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon across the country of Spain, sampling the best off-the-beaten path gourmet food that Spain has to dish up in order to present a review to The New York Times and The Observer.
This trilogy is stamping out a place for Coogan and Brydon in comedy duo history. Indeed, in the previous film, they wonder whether or not they will be remembered. It’s safe to say what people will remember is their almost unhealthy competition for doing impressions, a jovial rivalry that prevents any sort of sane, adult conversation with other people. The Trip to Spain sees a higher volume of impressions but in shorter batches. That said, Rob Brydon’s Roger Moore goes on for ages and it’s the funniest part of the movie. You’ll also get a tasting of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Sean Connery, a schmidge of Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Marlon Brando, Pablo Picasso, as well as dressing up like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Continuing with the series’ melancholy theme of aging, Coogan and Brydon look at their lives at age fifty. Brydon seems much less concerned about his life in this film: “You can’t have it all. You have to make a choice.” His commentary about turning 50 is flippant at most. He may say that marriage is less exciting, but he seems to genuinely get along with his wife and children, and he’s certainly not off having an affair with a pirate, a piece of The Trip to Italy that I deem a mistake. Not only was his affair off-character but seemed to suggest that any man given the opportunity would have a one-off affair, even if he’s happily married, and it won’t be a big deal. In fact, it’s not even mentioned in this third film.
Coogan, on the other hand, takes the majority of the melancholy weight as his love life, family life, and career are all a struggle. With four academy award nominations between The Trip to Italy and The Trip to Spain, it seems his career is taking off, and yet why can’t he get to the next rung on the career ladder? He discovers he’s about to become a 50-year-old grandfather, which is a sharp contrast to Rob, who still has a baby of his own at home. He’s also floundering miserably with the married woman he’s in love with. Ultimately, the story becomes about Coogan’s unrest.
The film ends on a joke. It doesn’t matter whether the joke is funny or not, whether it’s in good taste or not, only that it communicates, “We’re not doing any more of these movies.” So maybe we won’t see an elderly Coogan and Brydon in France or Greece in years to come, but it’s hardly the end of their friendship.