You know, I never actually finished Sideways, but I’m pretty sure that The Trip is the better, British, food-centric version of it. And they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, or a movie by its synopsis! Pish-posh.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are delightfully self-centered and insecure in this movie. They play “fictionalized versions of themselves,” a phrase I put in quotes because I’m not even sure it means anything anymore. Anyway, yeah, it’s not a documentary, so that quotated mash-up of words seemed like a necessary qualifier. They set out on a foodie road trip that was supposed to be meant for Coogan and his young American hottie girlfriend, but Brydon comes in at the last minute to fill in the spot when the romance goes downhill between Coogan and his bitchy Yank. Maybe I seem like I’m being mean to the girl, but she seriously was the least appealing part of the movie. She ditched him before this road trip, then spent the whole thing guilt-tripping him on the phone, then [SPOILER ALERT] he winds up alone at the end of the movie. Anti-comedy, if you ask me, though I applaud the reality of it. Oh well, it really wasn’t about the relationships in the first place.
No, the real heart of this movie is the banter between the two men. They spend basically the entire movie eating delicious, pretentious, staggeringly expensive food and trying to one-up each other with impressions of Sean Connery, Hugh Grant, Michael Caine, and other generally impression-worthy people. The result is both exhausting and hysterical; on the one hand I could never imagine actually going on a road trip with either of them, because they never really have meaningful conversations, but on the other, a dull moment would never be had. Both are so talented at the actual impressions, and at getting a laugh, that they’re a joy to watch in this format.
It’s also so impressive that the whole thing was off-the-cuff. Their conversations were natural because they were actual conversations, mundane and competitive in much of their content, but realistic nevertheless. Neither actor was “on” all the time, and the film consisted of a great number of silent scenes, wherein the men just take in the scenery and the food and the experience, and leave the viewer to contemplate what they’re thinking. It’s all very nice and simple and refreshing. And now I’m hungry.
A few favorite quotes, by the way:
“Did you cement Anglo-Polish relations?”
“There was a summit in my bedroom.”
“The only thing that babbles is a brook. What else babbles?”