Steve Coogan's Ambitions
Like many of the masterpieces of Western culture to which it humbly invites comparison—*Ulysses*, *Endgame*, *Pierrot Le Fou*—Michael Winterbottom’s new movie, *The Trip*, does not sound promising in paraphrase. Two successful middle-aged actors take a tour of high-end restaurants in the North of England in order to write an article for *The Observer* newspaper. The pair bicker, trade impersonations of their cinematic heroes, struggle to come up with interesting things to say about the finicky and pretentious meals they are fed (“Hotter than I would’ve expected,” etc.), and that is more or less it. It is hard to say exactly how Winterbottom and his two leading men transmute this rather lenten premise into the artistic feast *The Trip* becomes, but humor certainly plays a large part. After a comparatively tame first quarter of an hour, the theater where I went to see it was engulfed in a ninety-minute tsunami of laughter.
July 20, 2011