Would the real Steve Coogan please stand up? (The Trip to Spain)

I’ve had enough of Mother Nature (Irma here, deadly Maria and Mexico City earthquakes there) so I decided to forego mother! until I have someone to give me a hug after.

And I could use a hug. Let’s just say I wish people were more self-aware, acknowledged questions or previous plans and communicated in a linear fashion.

And so I took The Trip to Spain, loving Steve Coogan as I do. The movie parallels some of Coogan’s life (he brags about his Philomena Oscar nominations and meeting the Pope) and intrigues those of us middle aged women who are attracted to his unknown real life. IMDB reports that he has a college aged daughter with a solicitor and was married for three years.

I won’t give away those plot details that lead you to believe that Coogan needs a hug. Let’s just say one of the film’s themes is ‘you can’t have everything’. Which is a great message the cinematic gods were sending me; I have a great son, two interesting, semi easy jobs, and my health. So I should quit my whining about romance and consistent friends.

The Trip to Spain is the third in a series. I loved the first The Trip and was sad about the weak, maudlin The Trip to Italy. Spain seems to be a little closer to the first, albeit with a really dumb ending, which I can only hope alludes to the fourth in a series and if it is, let’s get it rolling.

To me, “The Trips” (directed by Michael Winterbottom) have become the parallel monosex version of Linklater’s Before Sunrise, Sunset and Midnight in that I hang on every word, wondering what Coogan or fellow actor Rob Brydon will say next. Unlike Linklater’s films though I am NOT sad when the trips end, mainly because there’s just a little too much meandering and not enough conflict, or in Spain’s case the conflict shows up at three quarters in, when my vacation enthusiasm has started to wane.

But still worth the price, even just to see two witty, dapper (they should get a male fashion award of some kind) gents pare off amidst the splendor of Spain’s food and gorgeous vistas.

Muy bien.

“A Trip to Italy”, akin to sorbet; pretty colors, shallow nutrition

I’m a bit of a homebody and that trait tranfers over to my vacation choices as well. Meaning, I like to vacation in the ol’ US of A and think a sojourn to Italy is the equivalent of buying a fine wine when the local varietal is just as palatable.

But hold up! Michael Winterbottom’s “A Trip to Italy” might be the best travel advertisement for Italy since the Oscar winning foreign film from last year, “The Great Beauty”. Vistas from every hotel and palace veranda were breath taking as was the swimming scene on the sunlit mirrored sea.

Steve Coogan, a very nice postcard to gaze from my 50 year old eyes perspective, and his comedic partner on this sequel, Rob Brydon are very funny together. Yet the laughs were more chuckle, than belly laugh. Many of their scenes are simply extended riffs on voice impersonations improving on different topics. Suggested viewing before seeing this film, by the way, is Roman Holiday which is referenced throughout.

Winterbottom seemed to want to rely too much on the visual ascetic, the food, and comedic improv. His writing merely dribbles the olive oil of the real emotional depth potential; Coogan’s character’s overt life disillusionment and Crydon’s marital strife.

Perhaps Winterbottom plans to have the co-stars confront their existential selves in a third film set in Sartre’s France which would prove he had this three course cinematic meal planned all along.
And the Alanis Morrisette sound track is the perfect sorbet. Ciao Bella!