Trip to Spain is the third movie in a trilogy of films, directed by Michael Winterbottom, about the exquisite travels of stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon who play fictional versions of themselves in the movie.
The film begins with Coogan’s inviting Brydon to a boondoggle through the Spanish countryside where they will dine at off-the-beaten path restaurants and collect experiences for Coogan’s book and Brydon’s restaurant reviews.
The trip is no big deal for globetrotting Coogan who is divorced with an adult son. It is a bit more problematic for Brydon, who is married with two small kids. But when he looks at his crying baby, he decides that a week-long trip to Spain with his friend would be worthwhile.
To fully enjoy this film, you need to be pretty well-versed in film, music, literature, history, art, and pop cultural because the majority of the film centers around Coogan and Brydon riffing on these topics. If you’re in on the jokes, Trip to Spain is an entertaining and funny movie (thank God for my liberal arts education). If not, you may find yourself scratching your head as the duo swap improvised lines. Throughout the film, I heard several people sitting around me ask, “What are they talking about?’
Even if some of the references are over your head, you can still enjoy this film on a human level. Beyond the clever banter, Trip to Spain is a movie about two guys in their early 50s who are trying to cope with growing older and all that entails.
Brydon openly worries that he is too old to have young children, but quickly dismisses his fear when he realizes that Mick Jagger had a baby at 72 (BTW – prepare to hear many Jagger impressions throughout this film). Both men have insecurities about their careers, but Coogan has it worse. After earning an Academy award nomination, he expected his career to skyrocket, but things don’t turn out as planned. In fact, Coogan’s professional life and personal life get progressively worse throughout the course of the movie.
What I really liked about the film was the cinematography. The lush Spanish landscape is beautifully shot and should receive co-star billing. I also enjoyed the shots of the food. The succulent dishes made me want to book a trip to Spain for myself. I only wish that Coogan and Brydon had spent more time talking about the food and less time trying to one-up one another with their impressions of famous people.
The movie’s ending may surprise a few people, but it makes sense considering the deteriorating state of Coogan’s life.
Overall, Trip to Spain is a fitting conclusion to the series. The film is smart, funny, and a sharp commentary on what it means to be middle-aged in today’s society.