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FLICKS: The Trip to Spain

Posted on 30 August 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


In these Dog Days of August leading into Labor Day weekend, the major studios seem to release films that they have very little faith in.  With a frugal budget, a studio will take a chance on an experimental film and, if it provides a good return of investment, the studio is likely to “experiment” in August the following year. It was 39 years ago that Universal Pictures experimented with a low budget script from the writers of National Lampoon and supporting actor from Saturday Night Live, John Belushi. The Animal House influence has reigned over the Motion Picture Box Office ever since.

Though this is the third film of a series, The Trip to Spain feels like an experimental film for the August season. Following The Trip and The Trip to Italy, The Trip to Spain features two actors (Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon) portraying fictional versions of themselves eating gourmet foods and staying at a swanky hotel. While the cynical business side may chide the financial sponsorship of the production costs, there is no denying the comedic chemistry of Coogan and Brydon.

Much like the previous two trip films, Coogan is given a writing assignment from The Observer (not us!) to travel in Spain. The lonely Coogan invites his foil, Brydon, who needs a break from the domestic chores of a screaming baby. The one week adventure begins with a cruise in which Coogan gets seasick.

There are plenty of widescreen shots of the Spanish landscape with extreme close-ups of locally grown food being grilled. Both Coogan and Brydon provide an ongoing commentary on a variety of subjects. Should the grapes of a good wine be plucked or dropped? The answer becomes a comical metaphor about men facing a middle age crisis.

Since it is about a trip to Spain, there is ample opportunity to parallel with the first buddy road story: Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

While Coogan and Brydon debate who will be Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, a photographer takes advantage of the situation to create some cheesy photographs of two actors who cannot ride a horse. 

It is the comedy of these two that prevents this film from becoming too academic. After discussing Cervantes work, they make a connection to the 1968 Pop soundtrack song “The Windmills of Your Mind,” which leads to an a capella duet. This charming scene is relatable to anybody on a long road trip with only AM radio to listen to.

The film ends with a bit of a cliffhanger in which one ponders the fate of Steve Coogan. Don’t worry kiddies, Mr. Coogan is fine and he just completed a biopic about the legendary comedy team of Laurel & Hardy (with John C. Reilly as Ollie) which is due to be released during awards season. As for Rob Brydon, I feel certain he is awaiting the next “Trip to ____” to get away from the wife and kids.

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