As I’ve mentioned before, The Trip was the one big “I can’t miss this one” of the festival for which I came up short in the ticket draw. Michael Winterbottom is the kind of filmmaker that never makes the same movie twice, which can be a plus or a minus when it comes to being an audience member, but Winterbottom has followed his muse to quite a few very cool places of late. Plus, how could I resist the premise? Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drive around the English countryside eating elaborate meals and bickering. For a fan of a certain kind of British comedy, this was the golden ticket. Alas, my order form was in the 35th bin processed and I didn’t get to go to the premiere. A spare ticket did turn up for the final day of the festival though, and though I had little hope of any of the principals still being in town (not a given: in 2007, Son of Rambow was the last screening I saw on the final Saturday, and Garth Jennings was still enjoying Toronto) I snapped it up.
So glad that I did. The Trip was just, to fall back on a hoary old cliché, a crowd-pleaser of the first order. It’s basically an hour and a half of two brilliant comedians playing vaguely fictionalized versions of themselves, driving each other up the walls, doing endless impressions, working out comedy bits, doing that British thing where they insult the other person but couch it in a way that it’s not meant to be an insult but the target really knows it is but neither will admit it and engaging in bizarre and ultimately (in the case of Coogan) heartbreaking introspection. I don’t think I’ve laughed as long or as hard in ages, and neither had the rest of the packed Ryerson auditorium, from the sounds of things.
Thing is, I don’t know if there’s more out there to enjoy. I looked The Trip up on imdb.com, and it’s listed as a six-episode TV show. So possibly what I saw was an edited-down version of all the episodes stitched together (Millennium trilogy style), and maybe a full-length version is coming out on BBC DVD. Or maybe each episode was only twenty minutes long and used as filler for those oddly-timed British TV shows to keep the schedule vaguely hourly. At any rate, pity I didn’t get to witness what was no doubt one hell of a Q&A on the 11th, but I’m still glad I got to see the film. (****)