British actors and all-around funny dudes Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have had some of their best creative successes as “Steve Coogan” and “Rob Brydon,” the lightly fictionalized versions of themselves they’ve played in three collaborations with prolific director Michael Winterbottom. The first, a 2005 metafictional adaptation of metafictional novel Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story, established the frenemy dynamic the two would carry over to Winterbottom’s The Trip and The Trip To Italy. The first of two BBC-miniseries-turned-feature-films, 2010’s The Trip turns on a conceit so simple, it barely qualifies as a conceit: Tag along with Coogan and Brydon on a restaurant tour of northern England, then watch as they converse, bicker, and trade dueling impressions of Michael Caine and Sean Connery. It sounds indulgent to a fault, but though it’s certainly possible, even understandable, to lob that critique at The Trip and its 2014 Italy-set sequel, doing so ignores how delightful (and sometimes awkward) it is to simply be in the presence of the pompous Coogan and ebullient Brydon as they try to one-up each other for days on end. It’s a quintessential hangout movie, bobbing along for 107 minutes on the deadpan charm and screen presence of its stars. It’s tough to track down the full six-episode BBC miniseries of The Trip in the States, but curious viewers can get an appetizer-sized portion when the film airs late tonight on Showtime 2, at 12 a.m. Eastern.
April 16, 2015 Cable Pick Of The Day