Tropic Sprockets / The Trip to Spain

By Ian Brockway

“The Trip to Spain” by Michael Winterbottom is the second sequel of “The Trip” (which was both a travelogue and a portrait of a friendship through the Lake District). This chapter takes place in the Spanish countryside and once again stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as two sarcastic but fond friends who journey from restaurant to restaurant and chat along the way, seemingly without stopping.

The last two outings of Coogan and Brydon had a breezy charm and this chapter is no exception. There is a comfortable familiarity here and when we see the two of them easily bantering back and forth, we lean into them like a pair of old sneakers.

Coogan has accepted a job as a restaurant reviewer while Brydon is more or less along for the ride.

They talk about their lives. Coogan is riding high from his role in the film “Philomena” which he co- wrote, while Brydon is content with his wife and two kids. Despite Coogan’s definite carreer boost, he is pre-occupied by an affair with a young married woman and becomes anxious when he learns his agent has not been forthcoming with new scripts.

The story does slow down by multiple impressions of  Roger Moore and Sean Connery, not to mention Brando, DeNiro and Pacino. This was funny in the last chapter, but to showcase the impressions again, and more than once in an episode, stretches the joke a bit too far.

The courses arrive featuring fat prawns that almost tumble over the plate, silver and blue shaded anchovies and a dish of chorizo that resembles carnal rubies.

Coogan and Brydon talk in a zany hyperbolic manner, commenting on this or that film or philosophy and they don’t manage to eat much.

Though the repartee is needlessly loud and silly at times, one thing is certain: these friends care for each other.

The invariable pithy sarcasms and replies are intriguingly interrupted when Coogan learns that a much expected visit from his son is cancelled and that his girlfriend has some sudden news and wants to put the brakes on the relationship.

After a light hearted dinner with his pal Brydon and assistant Yolanda (Marta Barrio) the trio go their own ways.

Coogan wants to drive to Morocco and does, with his girlfriend kissing him, only to discover it is a dream. Suffice to say all is not laughter and langoustines.

The film makes a pleasant engaging sequel. Fans of the prior episodes will be well pleased and “The Trip To Spain” is greatly helped by a quite eerie surprise ending in a nod to O. Henry that you just won’t see coming.

Write Ian at ianfree1@yahoo.com