A few more impressions for old-time’s sake
I saw The Trip to Greece movie. It arrived as a video-on-demand product this week. It’s the fourth “Trip” movie to appear in the last decade. Starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, directed by Michael Winterbottom, the Trip movies, originally broadcast as serialized British TV, are a perfect encapsulation of early 21st century decadence, the Roaring Teens. Coogan and Brydon, playing lightly fictionalized versions of themselves, go on epic junkets. In the first one, they visit the Lakes district in England. Then they go to Italy, and then Spain. The first film was almost revolutionary in its simplicity. The rest of them follow a successful formula.
THE TRIP TO GREECE ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Running time: 103 min
The Trip to Greece doesn’t deviate from that formula at all. It contains all the elements of a Trip movie. There’s a fancy car, fancy restaurant meals, and fancy hotels with gorgeous vistas. Brydon and Coogan hike around quoting poetry and reading guidebooks. The attractive assistant and gorgeous photographer pay a visit. Occasionally we get a sprinkling of midlife crisis. A brief stop at a refugee camp across the sea from Turkey provides a dollop of early relevance and contrast. But the film discards that quickly. They make some sort of lip service about following along the path of The Odyssey. But that also pales in favor of easy junket living.
Most importantly, we get the impressions. There’s no doubt who’s richer more famous (Coogan), or happier (Brydon), but the film is basically a throwdown between two comic masterminds to see who’s funnier. In The Trip To Greece, Brydon sings a lot of disco. They do competitive Dustin Hoffman and Marlon Brando imitations. There’s always a bit of James Bond schtick, though The Trip To Greece is missing the Michael Caine impressions that launched the Trip series into a sort of sophisticated indie comedy fame.
Despite the 15-minute sequences of uninterrupted comedy delight, there’s an undercurrent of wistfulness to The Trip to Greece, and not just because of Coogan’s increasingly sad plotline. Shot in 2019, The Trip To Greece unwittingly reminds us of how much we’ve lost in the last three months. Languishing over a meal with an unmasked server no longer exists. Neither does international travel. Or staying in hotels. Or doing anything with friends. All of that has flown the coop, some of it temporarily, some of it permanently. If Coogan and Brydon are doing dueling impressions right now, it’s over Zoom. A junket vacation, or any vacation at all, really, has become a historical concept.
They say that the Trip To Greece is the last Trip movie, even without all the current restrictions. That’s for the best, I think, because no one does anything anymore. The next one would have to be called The Trip To The Grocery, and it wouldn’t be very funny.
This concludes my review of The Trip To Greece movie.